Friday, June 8, 2018

NJAMHAA Partners with Health Maintenance Organizations and many Others to Support Member Providers

In 2011, NJAMHAA created the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Council to ensure a robust network of providers and continuity of medically necessary care for beneficiaries with chronic conditions. Throughout this time, the HMO Council has been a dynamic group consisting of HMOs, NJAMHAA member providers and representatives from the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services and the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. We engage in productive discussions about timely issues that involve HMOs and affect providers and access to their services.

The current hot topic that the HMO Council, as well as other groups that NJAMHAA facilitates, is focusing on is the upcoming changes to HMOs’ coverage of behavioral health services: Beginning July 1, 2018, HMOs will cover acute, hospital-based mental health services for all Medicaid beneficiaries and substance use services for individuals who are receiving Managed Long Term Services and Supports, people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and individuals who are covered by the Full Integrated Dually Eligible Special Needs Plan.

The inevitable change from fee-for-service reimbursement to value-based payments that is coming is another important topic that the HMO Council has been discussing and will continue to address. Presentations during meetings, as well as dedicated training outside of these meetings, are helping providers prepare for this major change, and more training will be developed as needed.

There is certainly a learning curve involved with any change and NJAMHAA understands it can be overwhelming, especially with multiple major changes being planned and implemented simultaneously. NJAMHAA aims to help minimize the stress associated with these changes by arranging for experts to provide valuable information and guidance. Stay tuned for learning opportunities through our website ( and social media.

We have open lines of communication with many individuals at HMOs, the state and many other organizations. People with expertise in various areas that are important to our members work with us to provide what is needed to help ensure our members’ success.

NJAMHAA is your partner and through our collaboration with the HMOs, the state and experts in the field, you can develop an extremely strong network! Stay informed about all that NJAMHAA offers and share opportunities with your coworkers!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Can You Afford to Pay $7.35 Million for a Data Breach?

Yes, you! Can you afford the risks of a data breach? The average cost is $7.35 million.

All businesses of all sizes are at risk.

Hacker attacks occur every 39 seconds.

One in five businesses experienced downtime for at least 25 hours due to ransomware. Can you and your staff – and the individuals you serve – afford this loss in time?

Cybersecurity Training Is Essential for All Staff

To minimize this risk, all staff – not just employees who focus mainly on information technology (IT) – need to be trained. NJAMHAA’s IT Project offers solutions: Training at its upcoming Annual Conference, Invasion of the Data Snatchers, on May 8, 2018 at the Pines Manor in Edison, NJ.

Cybersecurity specific presentations include Demystifying Hacking; Cyber-Threat Management: Awareness, Prevention, Recovery and Coverage; Network Security beyond the Firewall; and 2018 Cybersecurity Best Practices & Managing HIPAA Compliance on a Budget.

This conference also offers valuable information for executive, human resources, fiscal and other staff! Presentations will include a keynote on The Moneyball CIO – Learning the Science of IT Decision Making and workshops on Employment Law Overview, Taking the Anxiety Out of Interoperability, EHR Lessons Learned in a Fee-for-Service Environment, Implementing Employee Incentive Programs to Help Drive Higher Engagement, Leveraging Technology to Capture Outcomes and Demonstrate Value: Practical Approaches to Moving to Value-Based Care and Engaging Clients through your Website.

Maximize the security and effectiveness of your business! Visit today for more details and to register for this essential training!

Monday, March 26, 2018

NJAMHAA Is Proud to Honor Those who Contribute to New Jerseyans' Quality of Life

I am very inspired and my heart is warmed by the many ways in which frontline providers and agency leaders throughout the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA) empower individuals to recover from mental illnesses and substance use disorders, manage developmental disabilities and, as a result, achieve their potential in many ways. They demonstrate leadership, compassion, talent and dedication that contribute tremendously to quality of life for children and adults throughout our state.

I am equally delighted to recognize individuals in the State Legislature, media and other organizations for their initiatives to address issues that impact providers’ abilities to deliver care and individuals’ access to services.

With much excitement, I look forward to our annual Courage & Compassion Awards Reception, which will be held on April 10, 2018 at the end of the first day of our Annual Conference, Creating Balance through Integrated Care. I am honored to share with you that this year’s award recipients are:

        Tamra Ackerman, LSW, Community Case Manager, Jewish Family Service & Children’s Center of Clifton/Passaic: Outstanding Direct Care Provider in Case Management
        Patricia H. Delgado, RN, BSN, Nursing Services Coordinator, SERV Behavioral Health System: Outstanding Direct Care Provider in Nursing
        Kimberly Govak, Program Coordinator, Living Proof Recovery Center, Center for Family Services: Outstanding Peer Leadership
        Linda Mur, PhD, Associate Vice President, Adult Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorder Services, Center for Family Services: Outstanding Leadership in Substance Use Disorder Services
        Carolyn A. Perry, MA, LPC, ACS, Mental Health Services Director, Community Hope: Outstanding Leadership in Mental Health Services
        Carrier Clinic: Outstanding Provider
        U.S. Senator Cory Booker: Federal Leadership in Criminal Justice Reform
        New Jersey Senator Ronald Rice (D-28th District), State Senator of the Year
        New Jersey State Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson (D-14th District): State Assembly Member of the Year
        Katie Jennings, Reporter, Politico: Media and Government: Focus on Addictions
        Kevin and Maryann Meara, Founders, City of Angels: Inspirational Role Models
        Ray Castro, Director of Health Policy, New Jersey Policy Perspective: Excellence in Policy Research
        Valerie Mielke, MSW, State Leadership in Mental Health and Addiction Services
        Jeremy Timberman, IT Production Specialist, NJAMHAA, Employee of the Year

Every individual not only at these organizations, but also all NJAMHAA member organizations and throughout the behavioral health stakeholder community, is truly a hero!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

New Administration Presents Opportunities to Strengthen the Behavioral Health System

With the new administration in place, there are many unknowns and we look forward to hearing more from Governor Phil Murphy about his plans concerning the state’s community-based services for children and adults with mental illnesses, substance use disorders, intellectual/developmental disabilities and co-occurring health conditions.

Undoubtedly, there will be opportunities. For example, during the inauguration, Gov. Murphy acknowledge the importance of services to address the opioid crisis, other substance use disorders and mental illnesses. I feel confident that Gov. Murphy will support services to address all of the health conditions that are prevalent in the populations our members serve.

Of course, many funding needs must be met and regulatory issues need to be resolved to ensure access to the life-saving services our members provide. While the service delivery landscape is being restructured, we will continue to advocate for increased reimbursement rates; support for workforce development; inclusion of social determinants of health, such as housing, supported education and supported employment, in healthcare models; and full enforcement of parity.

Specifically, the behavioral health system needs higher capacity in partial care, outpatient and residential programs. Rate increases are needed to meet this need. Rates and policies for Community Support Services need to be improved so that these programs can continue to be available to individuals in need. The Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services has been examining this more closely. Additional funding is also needed to continue and expand supported employment and other services that enable individuals in recovery from mental illnesses and substance use disorders to rebuild their lives.

There needs to be a huge infusion of new funding because the suicide rate in New Jersey is continuing to increase and the shortage of psychiatrists, APNs and clinicians makes it difficult to serve everyone in need. One in four individuals has a mental illness and many also have substance use disorders. This underscores the critical importance of ensuring prompt access to high-quality services.

There needs to be assurance that current programs continue with adequate reimbursement rates that have inflationary factors incorporated to keep pace with the cost of living. In addition, funding for expansion of programs is necessary so that everyone in need of services has access to them.

Equally important are continued and increased efforts to eliminate stigma about both substance use disorders and mental illnesses. Stigma stops people from coming forward and seeking help that can save their lives and greatly improve their quality of life.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Take Care of Yourself as you Take Care of Others
While the holiday season is a time of joy for many people, it is also a difficult time for many others. Just as NJAMHAA members are dedicated to helping individuals throughout the state to cope with holiday blues, as well as chronic depression and other behavioral health challenges, NJAMHAA is committed to supporting members through the challenges of the many changes that the behavioral healthcare system is undergoing.

We always take charge and are constantly working on your behalf. As there is a lot to be concerned about and advocate for, we are at the forefront. For example, we are actively representing NJAMHAA members on Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s Transition Team’s Healthcare Committee and the Department of Health’s Integrated Health Advisory Council.

With so much in policy being in flux and unpredictable, it is natural to feel stressed and anxious. You may want to consider adapting these tips for coping with holiday blues in your efforts to manage the changes in the behavioral healthcare system:

       Acknowledge your feelings: You are not alone and you should not suppress anxiety you may be feeling.

       Reach out: Building on the previous point, reach out to your coworkers and colleagues in other agencies to share concerns.

o   I strongly encourage all of you to participate in Practice Groups and Membership Meetings to gain and share innovative ideas and collaborate on advocacy strategies.

Plan ahead: Make the most of NJAMHAA’s training opportunities to plan for major changes that will be taking place, such as value-based purchasing, and explore potential partnerships to ensure your agencies’ ongoing viability.      

All of us at NJAMHAA thank you for your commitment to improving the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people, and we wish all of you enjoyable holidays and a wonderful New Year.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Make “Reach Out and Touch Someone” a Reality Again

Some of you might remember the Bell and AT&T ads in the 1980s that encouraged people to “reach out and touch someone” by using their telephone service. Not only the ads and the types of phones in use at the time, but also the broader message, are practically extinct.

Today, we constantly contend with an endless proliferation of communication in various forms and on multiple devices. We give ourselves a sense of being engaged when really, we are missing life and watching it go by. Rather, we are not even watching because that would mean “unacceptable” down time that would interfere with our focus on what constantly arrives on our cell phones, iPads and computers.

As we come up on the holiday season, I recommend that we take a real break from devices and really connect in person…although this may seem novel, especially to Millennial and post-Millennial generations.

Overall – not just during the holidays – I advocate for a lot less technology and a lot more face-to-face communication, whether it’s at work, at home or with friends. We need to realize that in-person conversations are well worth the time and make the most sense.

People accuse me and others of needing more work-life balance. I love balance in life and I have many interests beyond work despite my passion for and commitment to what I do in my role at NJAMHAA. However, electronic communication in multiple forms demands my attention, especially from my constituents. For years now, almost “ad nauseum”, there have been articles about managing e-mail by ignoring it. I cannot follow that advice. My family, friends and work are too important.

However, I am making an early New Year’s resolution to strive for not only greater work-life balance, but also tech-body balance, as the Harvard Business Review featured earlier this year. Charlotte Lieberman, the author of this article, made many compelling statements. Here is one that particularly struck me: “A 2016 survey from Deloitte found that Americans collectively check their phones 8 billion times per day. The average for individual Americans was 46 checks per day, including during leisure time – watching TV, spending time with friends, eating dinner.” Lieberman added that many people check their phones when they’re in bathrooms! Even I haven’t gotten to that extreme – and I will not go there.

Lieberman also talked about the physical toll that technology can cause: for example, neck strain from looking at screens for long periods of time and aching wrists from an inordinate amount of scrolling and typing.

Other articles have underscored how today’s youth are so over-engaged in technology of various forms, that they have lost the real art of communication and, despite being “connected” have developed feelings of isolation and loneliness. Obviously, a social media-only friend is not the same as a real friend who gives you a hug.

Beyond the impacts on our physical, mental and emotional health, we also need to be careful for our safety. Cybersecurity risks abound, as we know from data breaches that have been reported in the news – online, of course (as well as “old-fashioned” newspapers). Social media also presents safety risks: users do not know who they are communicating with and, unfortunately, not everyone has good intentions.

I hope all of you have safe and enjoyable holidays and make “reach out and touch someone” a reality again with in-person contact with friends and family.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

“Why Should I Worry Now about Value-Based Purchasing to Keep My Organization Strong?”

There has not been a dull moment in the behavioral healthcare field for quite a while and there will not be one for a very long time, if ever.

Community-based providers continue to adjust to fee-for-service reimbursement while they brace themselves for the transition of mental health and substance use services from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health. Meanwhile, the federal government continues debates about the Affordable Care Act and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is moving forward with implementing value-based purchasing.

With all the changes happening, you may be wondering, “Why should I worry about value-based purchasing now?”

The answer is: Because it is not a question of “if”; it is a question of “when”. And with emphasis on integrated care, it will happen sooner, rather than later.

To be in a strong position in the future, it is imperative that all providers begin preparing now for value-based purchasing. You need to get ahead of the game to be ready for this major change!

As part of our mission to help providers plan for the future, NJAMHAA will host a critical training event – Staying Ahead of the Game: Beyond Fee-For-Service Reimbursement – Roundtable Summit on Integration and Value-Based Purchasing – on October 3, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Robert Wood Johnson Wellness Center, 3100 Quakerbridge Rd., Hamilton Township, NJ 08619.

Value-based purchasing calls for more mature relationships between health plan representatives and providers. This summit will provide the ingredients for developing relationships with payers and getting your organizations ready to deliver integrated services in the value-based purchasing system. It is important to remember that every value-based contract will be different – and this summit will help you prepare for operating under these contracts.

To help providers gain the most from this roundtable and to continue preparing for value-based purchasing, NJAMHAA will provide a FREE online provider-readiness tool to each individual who registers for this essential training event. If you were to hire a consultant to develop such a tool, you would pay 100’s – if not 1,000s – of dollars!

This survey is not transferable outside your organization and responses will be kept confidential. It is also proprietary; please do not share the link to it with others.

After the summit, we will send the aggregated results of the assessment tool responses, along with commentary from James Lape, MA, MBA, FACHE, Consultant and Former NJAMHAA Board President, who will be facilitating this event.

The transition of health care to value-based purchasing is inevitable! Providers must take action to bridge the gap from volume to value.

Click here to register today! Then, you will soon receive the link to the free provider-readiness tool!

NJAMHAA thanks our event sponsors: Aetna Better Health of New Jersey, Amerigroup Corporation, Beacon Health Options, Horizon NJ Health and Optum.