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Regional Policy Issue Forum #1


Mental Health America convened its inaugural issue forum on Thursday, March 7, at the National Press Club on Critical Mental Health Issues and the Affordable Care Act Implementation.  After a brief welcome by Mental Health America's CEO, Dr. Wayne Lindstrom, moderator Mary Agnes Carey from Kaiser Health News moderated an issue forum that included several policy experts.  Download the full Executive Summary of the Meeting.


Reggie at the issue forum
Reggie Williams addresses the crowd at the issue forum.



Joan Alker, Co-Executive Director at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, presented on Medicaid as the backbone of heatlhcare expansion.  She walked the attendees through a short tutorial on why Medicaid expansion, or lack thereof, will have a great impact on the range of benefits offered - more so than the types of exchange states chosen (i.e. state-run, state-federal partenrship, or federally-run). Joan Alker's full presentation is available for download: Medicaid Expansion.

Reggie Williams, Vice President at Avalere Health Policy and Business Consultants and Mental Health America Board Member, detailed the continually evolving heatlh care landscape, covering Health Exchanges, Medicaid Expansion, and insurance reform.  He discussed higher cost sharing for consumers and new protections in the changing model.  Reggie's full presentation is available for download: Health Exchanges.

Moe Keller, Vice President of Public Policy at MHA Colorado and former Colorado State Senator, outlined the steps that Colorado has taken to become a natinoal leader in ACA implementation.  Moe discussed the forethought and planning, assisted by grants from the governor's office and the Department of Health and Human Services and supported by the Colorado legislature, that will have the state's exchange ready to begin enrollment on October 1. Moe's full presentation is available for download:  Benchmark Plans and Essential Health Benefits.

Debbie Plotnick, Senior Director of State Policy at Mental Health America, presented on behalf of two other scheduled speakers who could not make the session due to the weather.  She offered a brief history of several evidence-based peer-run programs and detailed how states have added peer services to their Medicaid Plans.  Her full presentation is available for download: Peer Services.

Due to inclement weather, two presenters were not able to attend the forum.  They provided their materials for the use of our group.

Peter Ashenden, Director of Consumer Affairs for Optum's Behavioral Solutions Business, presented on Peer Services.

Harvey Rosenthal, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NTAPRS) presented on Medicaid Managed Care/Community Inclusion.

Mary Agnes Carey from Kaiser Health News moderated the session, including a spirited question and answer session that covered a wide range of topics.

The Issue Forum was sponsored by Takeda and Lundbeck.


Takeda and Lundbeck



Mental Health America 


Enroll America

Kaiser Health News

For more information about how you can get involved with the Regional Policy Council or attend an upcoming issue forum, contact Debbie Plotnick