Key Amendments, MCSTAP Up & Running, and more ...

Senate Passes Two Amendments to Assist in Opioid Fight

The State Senate in the course of debating its version of the FY2020 state budget last week adopted two MHA priority amendments that will assist in the fight against the opioid epidemic. 
The first amendment deals with nasal naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, which is the medication that reverses opioid overdoses. Patients can currently obtain Narcan though pharmacies and have insurers pay for it. But often, those suffering from opioid use disorder, after leaving a hospital emergency department (ED) following a near-fatal event, won’t go to their local drugstore to get Narcan. Hospitals often provide this medication to these individuals. The MHA-endorsed amendment, sponsored by Cape & Islands Senator Julian Cyr (D), ensures coverage and reimbursement for nasal naloxone provided to patients in EDs and other outpatient settings.

Specifically, the amendment adopted this past week provides not less than $300,000 “to increase the availability of nasal naloxone rescue kits prior to discharge from an acute care hospital emergency department or satellite emergency facility after treatment for an opioid overdose.” As importantly, the amendment requires the Division of Insurance and MassHealth to bring together providers and payers to devise a plan by July 2020 to fund the cost of distributing nasal naloxone rescue kits prior to discharge from an acute care hospital emergency department or satellite emergency facility after treatment for an opioid overdose.  The amendment also supports expending funds for other harm reduction initiatives.
Another amendment win concerns the Massachusetts Consultation Service for the Treatment of Addiction and Pain (MCSTAP). The service provides free advice to clinicians on how to best treat SUD. (See related story below.) The MHA priority amendment, sponsored by Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), provides $250,000 to expand MCSTAP’s reach to provide case management consultations to a wider range of providers, including nurse case managers, social workers, and recovery coaches.
In other amendment news, an effort by a nursing union representing less than 25% of RNs in the state to pass a measure that would have led to government-mandated nurse staffing ratios was defeated.
And a re-drafted amendment, filed by Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), prohibits the Secretary of Health & Human Services from restricting or limiting a hospital’s access to the 340B program unless the Secretary fulfills a series of notice requirements prior to implementation. This amendment, which protects safety net hospitals from being denied the discounts to which they are entitled, was also an MHA priority.

MCSTAP is Up and Running

The Massachusetts Consultation Service for the Treatment of Addiction and Pain (MCSTAP), created through last year’s opioid law (Chapter 208), allows providers to call a number and have a consultant give advice on safe prescribing and managing care for patients with chronic pain and/or substance use disorder (SUD). The Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center provides medical leadership of MCSTAP, but MCSTAP’s physician consultants are experts from healthcare systems around the state.
MCSTAP is geared now to primary care practices but is able to field calls from hospital emergency departments. When a provider calls, a MCSTAP specialist will gather details and then send a request to a physician consultant, who will call the provider back within 30 minutes.
MCSTAP is a free service to providers funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services through its contract with the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership.
The phone number – which is for providers only and not the public – is 1-833-724-6783 (1-833-PAIN-SUD), and is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

State Seeks to Connect Brain Injury, SUD Communities

A new opportunity is available through the state for organizations wishing to train staff members on how to best coordinate care for individuals who have co-occurring brain injury and substance use disorder.
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, in partnership with DPH and the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts will train up to two clinically trained master’s level staff from an organization, who will then, in turn, be able to train others. The purpose of the “Train-the Trainer” grant is to connect the brain injury and the substance use disorder communities, and to train professionals in both communities.
There will be no funding provided to the selected agencies; compensation will be in the form of training. CEUs will be provided at all levels without cost to the individuals or the qualifying agencies.
The state’s RFR for the project is at the COMMBUYS site here. A bidder’s conference on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough.

Boston Medical Center Recognized for Diversity & Inclusion

Congratulations to Boston Medical Center, which on May 17 received the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Massachusetts Chapter inaugural award recognizing achievement in advancing diversity and inclusion in a healthcare setting. Organizations that have taken the American Hospital Association’s (AHA’s) “123forEquity” pledge were eligible.
Hospitals that have taken the 123forEquity pledge vow to:
• Increase the collection and use of race, ethnicity, language preference and other socio-demographic data
• Increase cultural competency training
• Increase diversity in leadership and governance
• Improve and strengthen community partnerships.
The ACHE Regent for Massachusetts Karen Moore, SVP of Operations and CNO at Lawrence General Hospital, said, “BMC reflected the criteria through actions and outcomes the rigorous award application requires. We know there is much work being done across the healthcare sector in this regard and wanted to elevate that recognition.”

Mass. Nurses are Third Highest Paid in U.S.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts has the third highest annual mean wage of RNs among U.S. states -- $92,140, trailing only California and Hawaii. The Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, NH metropolitan has the second highest annual mean wage behind only Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA area. The state with the lowest average salary for RNs is South Dakota ($58,340).

Health Plans and Providers Come Up with Plan to Cut Red Tape

The MassCollaborative – a voluntary organization founded by MHA, Mass. Medical Society, Mass Association of Health Plans, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts – has devised another red-tape-cutting initiative.
Coming this summer, providers will be able to access a centralized electronic portal to enter updates to provider directories. Health plans are required to regularly update provider directories to comply with CMS requirements, provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and accreditation organizations. This currently requires the numerous insurance companies, on a quarterly basis, to request the information from providers. As a result, providers receive frequent duplicative requests from multiple health plans. Providers have also complained that new information submitted to health plans isn’t always updated on a timely basis. (Inaccurate provider directories are problematic for consumers seeking to find in-network clinicians and access care.)
Now with a central data-entry site, a provider enters the information once and it’s available for the various insurers to use.
HealthCare Administrative Solutions and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts partnered with CAQH to implement the electronic solution to updating provider directories. The MassCollaborative, HCAS, and the individual health plans have been working together on the concept.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day honors those who have died defending the nation. In December 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the “National Moment of Remembrance Act,'' which designates a minute beginning at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day as the time when Americans should reflect on the sacrifices service men and women have made. In passing the Act, Congress noted a designated time of reflection is needed “to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be.”

MHA's 83rd Annual Meeting
Wednesday, June 12 - Friday, June 14

MHA’s Annual Meeting in June has some very interesting speakers lined up. There’s John Donvan, an Emmy-award winning correspondent and author of In a Different Key, The Story of Autism. NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall (who holds the single game reception record with 21, when he played for the Denver Broncos in 2009) will discuss his struggle with borderline personality disorder and how he is bringing attention to mental health issues through Project 375. U.S. Representative Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, will provide deep insight into what’s happening in Washington, D.C. And there will be a panel discussion of local healthcare leaders on Creating a Culture of Diversity & Inclusion and Why it Matters. That’s just a few of the highly engaging, very timely talks that will occur over the three-day meeting. If you haven’t signed up yet, there are still spaces available. Click here for the full agenda and registration information.

John LoDico, Editor