SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
September/October 2010, Volume 18, Number 5 

Health Reform: What You Need To Know

What the Affordable Care Act Offers

Integration of behavioral health and primary care is another major theme within the Affordable Care Act.

For example, the law allows states to add a “health home” option to their Medicaid coverage (see What Are Health Homes?). Health homes “fit all the pieces together” for individuals with chronic conditions, explained Charles Ingoglia, M.S.W., Vice President for Public Policy at the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. In these long-term relationships, consumers select providers who will be responsible for coordinating all of their care, sharing information electronically with other providers, and handling tasks like followup that often fall through the cracks.

That concept is especially helpful for people with behavioral health issues, said Mr. O’Brien. “Studies have shown that 70 percent of individuals with significant mental health or substance use disorders have one or more chronic conditions,” he pointed out.

Behavioral health providers should already be preparing for the integration of behavioral health and primary care, emphasized Rita Vandivort-Warren, M.S.W., a public health analyst in the Division of Services Improvement at SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

“It’s important for mental health and substance abuse providers to develop good linkages with primary care practitioners,” she said, adding that there are various models of integration. “Sometimes it’s the behavioral health provider doing screening and brief interventions in the primary care site; sometimes it’s the primary care provider giving services in behavioral health organizations.”

Providers should also ensure that they’re ready to embrace electronic medical records and understand Medicaid billing procedures, added Mr. Randazzo.

Help from SAMHSA

Many details of ACA’s implementation are still to be worked out. SAMHSA will play a key role in that process.

To help influence what happens with provisions related to behavioral health, SAMHSA crafted a white paper laying out its vision for a good, modern addictions and mental health service system. “We wanted to get ahead of the curve,” said Mr. O’Brien.

SAMHSA is already involved in helping to shape specific ACA provisions. States must consult with SAMHSA as they craft their plans for health homes, for example.

Consumers, providers, and other stakeholders should get involved, too, emphasized Mr. Randazzo. They should stay informed about what’s happening, get engaged, and share their input on such matters as what specific behavioral health services will be included in the essential benefits package, how the new insurance exchanges are constructed, and so on.

“We want to make sure behavioral health is at the table,” said Mr. Randazzo. “With other people’s involvement, we can keep behavioral health concerns at the forefront.”

More Information

For more information about the Affordable Care Act, visit http://www.healthcare.gov. This site features a timeline, video chats, and even an interactive database of insurance options in addition to basic information about the law.

For more information about ACA’s impact on behavioral health, visit SAMHSA’s newly redesigned Web site and click on the Agency’s Strategic Initiative on Health Care Reform.


  Cover Story & Related Articles  
Health Reform: What You Need To Know

Health Reform: What You Need To Know

Health reform signals major changes for those with behavioral health needs.



  From the Administrator  
Leading Change

Leading Change

SAMHSA is taking a lead role in shaping health care reform policies. Read more.



  Suicide Prevention  
National Action Alliance Convenes

National Action Alliance Convenes

Launching a public-private collaboration to address the suicide crisis.

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

How many college students are lost to suicide each year?


  Military Families  
National Guard Trains Providers

National Guard Trains Providers

Behavioral health treatment providers experience boot camp.

November Is Military Family Month

November Is Military Family Month

A presidential proclamation and Veterans Day honor the Nation’s service members.

Real Warriors Get Help

Real Warriors Get Help

Behavioral health services are needed now more than ever.



  Oil Spill Update  
New Helpline for Gulf Coast Residents

New Helpline for Gulf Coast Residents

Toll-free helpline provides support. Call 1-800-985-5990.



  HIV/AIDS  
Hip-Hop Culture Builds Awareness

Hip-Hop Culture Builds Awareness

Hip-hop “Reaches youth where they are.”

Two Recent Conferences

Two Recent Conferences

SAMHSA’s Minority Education Institute, U.S. Conference on AIDS.



  Statistics & Data  
Drug Use Rises among All Ages

Drug Use Rises among All Ages

Drug use increased in 2009, especially marijuana use.



  Recovery Month 2010  
From

From “Active Addiction” to Recovery

At the Recovery Month launch, two people tell their stories. See event photos.



  Communications Update  
In Atlanta: Focus on Behavioral Health

In Atlanta: Focus on Behavioral Health

At the National Conference, SAMHSA officials focused on new technologies.

Scholarship Recipients Offer Feedback

What lessons learned came from attending the communications conference?

Special Session on Behavioral Health

Special Session on Behavioral Health

Why primary care physicians need to know “Behavioral Health is Essential to Health.”



  Older Adults  
In the ER: Older Adults & Illicit Drug Use

In the ER: Older Adults & Illicit Drug Use

How many emergency room visits involved illicit drug use by adults age 50 or older in 2008?



  Teens & Young Adults  
What a Difference a Friend Makes: Contest Winners

What a Difference a Friend Makes: Contest Winners

Entries show the importance of acceptance in recovery from mental health problems.

Violent Behaviors & Teens: Academics & Family Income Key Factors

Violent Behaviors & Teens: Academics & Family Income Key Factors

Nearly 7.8 million adolescents participated in violent behaviors in the past year.



  Also in this Issue  
Voice Awards Honor Former First Lady, Consumer Leaders

Voice Awards Honor Former First Lady, Consumer Leaders

Rosalynn Carter received the Lifetime Leadership in Behavioral Health Award.

New Quick Guide on TIP 42

New Quick Guide on TIP 42

Get at-a-glance information on substance abuse treatment for co-occurring disorders.



  Visit the SAMHSA Store  

Free Publications at Your Fingertips

The new SAMHSA Store offers publications and other Agency products. Visit store.samhsa.gov.

SAMHSA Store Video Tour

View the story of the SAMHSA Store.