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One in five Texans experience a mental health condition each year. Half a million Texas children have a serious emotional disturbance. More than two-thirds of people with a behavioral health condition get no treatment for that condition.

Workforce shortages, limited funding and insurance/treatment barriers create obstacles to accessing appropriate behavioral health care. The result is that adults and children in Texas with behavioral health needs increasingly rely on clinically inappropriate settings, such as hospital emergency departments, to receive needed behavioral health treatment. To improve the behavioral health care system and improve access to care, the Texas Hospital Association supports:

Increased Behavioral Health Funding

Texas hospitals support the necessary state funding to ensure timely and appropriate access to inpatient and outpatient, community-based services and supports for Texans with a behavioral health need. Although appropriations by the 83rd and 84th Texas Legislatures have increased funding for behavioral health care, Texas still ranks at the bottom of states in mental health funding. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Texas is 48th in the nation for per capita mental health spending. The national per capita average is $120; Texas has a per capita average of $41.

Mental Health Parity

Texas hospitals support increasing the Texas Department of Insurance’s authority to enforce the existing federal parity law. Health plans’ differential management of mental health and physical health treatment exacerbates the behavioral health issues that many Texans experience. Eliminating differences in how treatment for physical and mental health conditions is reimbursed and administered will improve access to timely, medically necessary behavioral health treatment.

Growing the Substance Use Provider Workforce

Despite the 84th Texas Legislature’s investment of more than $325 million in substance abuse prevention and treatment services, Texas still has a severe shortage of substance use providers, and the problem is more acute as rates of opioid abuse increase. Adding licensed chemical dependency counselors to the state’s Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals incentivizes LCDCs to practice in shortage areas and serve underserved patients by providing educational loan repayment assistance. Expanding the substance use provider workforce will build on the state’s investment.

Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals

THA is encouraging eligible mental health professionals to apply to receive loan repayment assistance for serving indigent populations across the state.

The application and additional information, including administrative rules for the program are available from the Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals Web page. The application deadline is Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

The 84th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 239, which authorized a new student loan repayment assistance program for certain mental health professionals who provide services in federally designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas. A total of $2.125 million was appropriated for the program for the FY 2016-2017 state biennium to allow for financial commitments to approximately 100 providers for two years of loan repayment.

Related:
Texas Hospital Association Behavioral Health Council Member Testifies in Support of Mental Health Parity Bill

None at this time.

Charge: To discuss and make policy recommendations to the Council on Policy Development regarding behavioral health care issues affecting hospital members that provide behavioral health services (meets as needed).

MEMBERS

Chair: Matthew Feehery, Memorial Hermann Prevention/Recovery, Houston
Vice-Chair: Christine (Chris) Bryan, Clarity Child Guidance Center, San Antonio
Heather Chung, Houston Methodist Hospital
Sally Taylor, MD, University Health System, San Antonio
Jacob Cuellar, MD, Laurel Ridge
Phillip (Wayne) Young, JPS Health Network, Fort Worth
Charlzetta McMurray-Horton, Ben Taub General Hospital, Houston
Jeanne Wypyski, Texoma Medical Center – Behavioral Health Center, Sherman
Tom Collins, Green Oaks Hospital, Dallas
Laci Laird, ETMC Behavioral Health, Tyler
Celeste Johnson, Parkland Health & Hospital System
Becky Tresnicky, Valley Baptist Behavioral Health System, Brownsville
Sherry Bustin, Oceans Behavioral Hospital Lufkin
Stephen Glazier, UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center, Houston
Ed Prettyman, Texas NeuroRehab Center, Austin

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According to Texas Government Code 305.027, portions of this material may be considered “legislative advertising.” Authorization for its publication is made by John Hawkins, Texas Hospital Association, 1108 Lavaca, Suite 700, Austin, TX 78701-2180.