Advocacy E-News May 18, 2019

May 18, 2019


Whistleblower says NJ violated civil rights of psychiatric patients with disabilities

A whistleblower lawsuit claims New Jerseyans with intellectual or developmental disabilities were inappropriately diagnosed with mental illnesses, given psychotropic drugs and forced to stay in state psychiatric hospitals long after they were deemed stable enough to return to the community.

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Cory Booker lays out plan to reduce gun suicides

New Jersey Sen. and Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker has laid out his plan to reduce gun suicides, which includes a federal gun licensing program, his latest proposal to combat firearms violence. Booker’s plan encourages relatives of at-risk residents to take away their guns, and it calls for public support for counseling.

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Senior Living Providers See Opportunity to Expand Behavioral Health Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) last year added behavioral health as a billable code to its Chronic Care Management (CCM) program. The program is meant to improve health outcomes and drive down the cost of care for people living with multiple chronic conditions, including behavioral health conditions. CMS also has the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model (CoCM), which enhances primary care in two ways: care management support for people receiving behavioral health treatment and adding to the primary care team regular psychiatric interspecialty consultation.

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Bill to Protect Privacy of Mental Health Patients Approved by Assembly Panel

Under federal law, insurance companies are only entitled to access the minimum necessary information to process a claim; however, insurers have been known to inappropriately request private information to process claims for mental health care. Legislation (A-3955) that would directly address this problem by prohibiting mental health care professionals from disclosing certain patient information to an insurance carrier was approved Thursday by the Assembly Human Services Committee.

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Senator Vin Gopal today called for New Jersey to explore ways to assist health care providers who may struggle to retain and recruit staff following increases in the state minimum wage. Senator Gopal’s concerns follow recent testimony by Department of Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson regarding the potential impact of New Jersey’s new minimum wage law on providers who offer mental health, disability support services, long-term nursing home and home health care for low-income residents.

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