Legislative Efforts & Advocacy Recap: March 2021

Anna Bullard, VP Government Relations is on the front lines advocating to improve families’ access to quality behavioral health services. Read below to learn about the recent activity that Anna is taking part in across the U.S.

Oregon

BHCOE submitted a letter of support for SB358A with the amendment engrossed to the Senate Healthcare Committee. Anna is currently working with advocates in Oregon in support of SB358A to extend the sunset for the autism mandate in the state.

In addition, the amendment (e.g., removing of the provision that renamed the title for the interventionists from Registered to Licensed) had no opposition. The bill has passed the Senate Healthcare committee and is now in Ways and Means. Due to the fiscal impact to PEBB and OEBB (Public Employees Benefits Board and Oregon Educators Benefits Board – similar to PEBB but for teachers), both PEBB and OEBB assert that they will stop paying for Applied Behavior Analysis after this year if SB358A does not pass.

Although existing federal and state laws already require the coverage, the passage of SB358A is critical to ensure that caregivers of individuals with autism seeking access to ABA are not burdened with an unnecessary hardship in obtaining the coverage. BHCOE will continue to support the passage of SB358A.

Click here to read the bill language. 

Georgia

After working for several years with Georgia Medicaid, Anna confirmed plans for Georgia Medicaid to remove the BCBA to RBT supervision ratio currently set at 1-to-10 with an attestation requirement to be submitted for each RBT when the RBT is added or removed.

While this policy was intended to ensure the delivery of quality supervision, it inadvertently limited Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to care. We were informed that the policy update will be effective April 1st, 2021.

For Georgia Medicaid providers, please log in to the MMIS portal to view the update.

Thank you to Georgia Medicaid and all those involved in this momentous effort to reduce care barriers for children with autism with an increase on the focus of quality supervision.

Texas

On March 16, 2021, a public hearing was held on proposed Medicaid payment rates for the medical policy for autism services. Anna testified along with many other advocates in favor of rates that would create a benefit with an adequate network for ABA services.

Through Anna’s work with our Texas lobbyist, key state legislators have sent letters to HHSC in support of sustainable rates.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive them to our accredited providers. BHCOE continues to actively work collaboratively

Pennsylvania

In 2020, OMHSAS made changes to the existing benefit for ABA, moving all services under a new program called IBHS. Unfortunately, this left a gap for many of our Pennsylvania accredited providers and their families by restricting specific locations for services.

BHCOE participated through collaboration with advocates, providers, and families through letters of support and engaging state legislators to ensure that medically necessary services could be delivered in the setting deemed appropriate for the individual child, including services in a center.

More information found here:

Federal Benefits

BHCOE is excited to announce our membership in the National Coalition for Access to Autism Services (NCAAS). Anna Bullard represents BHCOE’s mission to transform person-centered behavioral health by advancing measurement science, establishing performance-based standards, increasing access to quality care, and leading community collaboration.

Our current focus for federal policy is ensuring ongoing access to quality Telehealth for ABA services. BHCOE is excited to also support the efficacy of ABA for all TRICARE beneficiaries with the help of our data and research team.

For questions or support, please reach out to Anna directly at anna@bhcoe.org.

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