Reports for Behavioral Health

Health Care in the ARPA Bill: Selected Highlights from Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021

In December 2021, Governor Baker signed Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021 into law. This legislation, often referred to as the “ARPA bill,” appropriates close to $4 billion, including $2.55 billion in funding directly from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA was passed in March 2021 to provide money to states to start recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapter 102 invests money from ARPA in many areas, including housing, infrastructure, education, and economic development.

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arpa bill summary thumb

Help for the Front Line: Approaches to Behavioral Health Consultation for Primary Care Providers

The goal of this study was to better understand whether Primary Care Providers (PCPs) identify a need for a PCP-to-behavioral health (BH) provider consultation program for adult patients with mental health conditions and substance use disorders (SUDs), and whether they would utilize such a program. Additionally, the study sought to understand the type of BH conditions providers encounter, the proportion of adult primary care patients with BH needs, and the challenges PCPs face in supporting adult patients with BH conditions.

report cover
report cover

Behavioral Health During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Update on Need and Access in Massachusetts 2020/2021

This brief provides an updated snapshot of the need for behavioral health care and experiences accessing it in the Commonwealth as of 2020/2021, based on a new survey commissioned by the Foundation.  This survey was fielded by NORC at the University of Chicago between December 2020 and March 2021 and gathered information on the need for and access to behavioral health care among Massachusetts adults ages 19 and older and their close relatives.

Cover of Behavioral Health and COVID report
Cover of Behavioral Health and COVID report

Impact of the American Rescue Plan Act on the Massachusetts Health Care System

In response to the health and economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021, which makes $1.9 trillion available to individuals, states and territories, counties, cities, community organizations, educational institutions, and other entities. Some funds are intended to shore up or even expand programs and agencies that have been depleted during the pandemic, while other funds are designated or available to create new programs.

Cover of the ARPA Impact report
Cover of the ARPA Impact report

Opening the Door to Behavioral Health Open Access in Massachusetts

Addressing timely access to behavioral health care through the adoption of open access methods supports the well-being of people with behavioral health conditions, improves staff productivity, and increases financial stability for provider organizations. However, no study has previously documented the experience of provider organizations using this model in Massachusetts.

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updated thumb

Behavioral Health Urgent Care: A Vision for Massachusetts and Opportunities to Improve Access

Behavioral health urgent care services are a critical component of the broader behavioral health care delivery system. Developing and sustaining a robust set of behavioral health urgent care services across community-based settings will provide adults with more options for timely access to care and offer alternatives to emergency departments for treatment.

Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Care in Massachusetts through Telehealth: Sustaining Progress Post-Pandemic

At the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Massachusetts led the nation in rapidly deploying progressive policies to temporarily expand access to telehealth. These changes have enabled significant increases in adoption of telehealth, including telebehavioral health, for providers and consumers in a short period of time. Prior to COVID-19, utilization of telebehavioral health had not gained widespread spread traction in Massachusetts despite its potential as a means to dramatically improve access to behavioral health care services, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Summary of the Behavioral Health Provisions of Governor Baker’s 2019 Health Care Bill

On October 18, 2019, Governor Charlie Baker submitted House Bill 4134, An Act to Improve Health Care by Investing in Value, to the Massachusetts Legislature. The bill proposes a comprehensive set of policies designed to address barriers to behavioral health care access, including the establishment of a new system that would incentivize providers and health plans to spend more of their funds on primary care and behavioral health services while rebalancing spending in other areas.

Fostering Effective Integration of Behavioral Health and Primary Care in Massachusetts: An Evaluation

In January 2016, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation undertook a three-year grant-funded initiative to expand access to integrated behavioral health (IBH) and primary care services in Massachusetts – Fostering Effective Integration (FEI). Grants were awarded to a diverse cohort of eight providers in the Commonwealth with experience in delivering IBH care. This report describes the findings of an evaluation conducted by John Snow, Inc. (JSI) from January 2016 to December 2018.

Access to Outpatient Mental Health Services in Massachusetts

This series of reports describes the results of a comprehensive mixed-methods study, Access to Outpatient Mental Health Services in Massachusetts. The study sought to quantify the wait times for outpatient mental health office visits in Massachusetts, better understand the experiences of clients seeking an appointment, and identify facilitators and barriers to accessing mental health services.

Fostering Effective Integration of Behavioral Health and Primary Care in Massachusetts, Year One Report

This report includes findings from the evaluation of the 2015 Fostering Effective Integration grant program. The goals of the evaluation were to determine 1) how grantees defined “success” for their integration efforts, 2) grantee perceptions of the critical components of effective integration programs, 3) common barriers to integration, and 4) measures grantees used to assess programs.

Coordinating Care for Patients with Alcohol or Drug Use Disorders: Effective Practices and Common Barriers in Three Centers

In recent years, integrating treatment for mental health and substance use disorders (SUD) with primary care has been the subject of extensive research testing a number of different integration models and specific interventions. While many of these approaches have shown promise in demonstrations or clinical trials, the true test of value is in real-world settings where there are competing demands on scarce resources, strict fidelity to intervention protocols is difficult, and patients have multiple urgent needs.

Sharing Behavioral Health Information in Massachusetts: Obstacles and Potential Solutions

This report, prepared by Robert Belfort and Alex Dworkowitz of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, provides a review of the primary Massachusetts and federal privacy laws relevant to the exchange of information among physical and behavioral health providers and an assessment of technological and operational challenges faced by providers seeking to integrate care through enhanced data exchange.

Barriers to Behavioral and Physical Health Integration in Massachusetts

This report, prepared by Margaret Houy and Michael Bailit of Bailit Health Purchasing, LLC, provides a comprehensive review of the policy and regulatory barriers that impede behavioral health integration in Massachusetts and identifies potential options for addressing these barriers. This report is divided into three sections – licensing, privacy, and, reimbursement barriers – and was developed through a review of reports and other secondary sources, agency regulations and checklists, and interviews and a focus group with key stakeholders.