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

photo of several health professionals

What Are Health Homes?

For people with serious or multiple chronic health conditions, a primary care physician often isn’t enough. To meet all their needs, they may also see several specialists. And that can get complicated.

“Trying to navigate the health care system is like trying to find your way through a tangled maze,” said Charles Ingoglia, M.S.W., Vice President for Public Policy at the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. “Sometimes, doctors don’t have time to talk to each other or share information.”

“Health homes” are an attempt to change that. “And we need to clarify what a health home is, too,” said John O’Brien, M.A., Senior Advisor for Health Financing at SAMHSA. “Some folks are concerned that when you’re talking about homes, you’re talking about residential programs.” Not so, Mr. O’Brien explained.

Rather than being a physical place, health homes are a strategy for helping individuals with chronic conditions manage those conditions better.

An eligible individual—for example, a person with diabetes and a mental illness—selects a provider or team of health care professionals to be his or her health home. That home then becomes accountable for all the individual’s care, including the following:

  • Manage and coordinate all of the services the person receives from multiple providers.
  • Promote good health.
  • Help with transitions from one kind of setting to another.
  • Provide support to both the individual and her family members.
  • Offer referrals to community and social support services.

Behavioral Health

Health information technology helps link all of these services together.

The health homes provision is especially good news for people with mental health and substance use disorders, said Rita Vandivort-Warren, M.S.W., a public health analyst in the Department of Services Improvement at SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

“Those with these chronic illnesses tend to have more complex, long-standing needs and more variety of different providers involved,” she explained. “In other words, they have to go to many different providers who may not communicate with each other and who never see the whole person, only the illnesses they treat.”

Coordinating Care

The new provisions will allow Medicaid to reimburse providers for the time they spend on such vital tasks as coordinating interdisciplinary care, whether in person or virtually, or meeting with family members to help support an individual’s recovery.

States can begin offering the health homes option in January 2011. “We’ve heard informally that a lot of states are interested,” said Ms. Vandivort-Warren. The legislation features a “sweetener”—a 90 percent Federal match for the first 2 years—to encourage states to add health homes to their list of benefits, she said. States interested in including health homes in their Medicaid programs must submit a state plan amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

SAMHSA will be providing assistance to states on prevention and treatment services for those with mental and substance use disorders. In fact, the legislation requires states to consult with SAMHSA on their proposals’ behavioral health aspects.

For more information on health homes, visit http://www.healthcare.gov.


  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.