topics Announcements ‘Go And Tell Your Story’

‘Go And Tell Your Story’

Meadows Institute experts share advice on speaking to lawmakers about pediatric integrated behavioral health care and the Collaborative Care Model at the AACAP legislative conference.

The hundreds of child and adolescent psychiatrists from around the country who gathered April 15 for the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C. didn’t need to be told that there’s a youth mental health crisis in this country.

Working on the front lines, they’re acutely aware of its existence, they said. Instead, what they wanted to hear from speakers at the conference were impactful solutions that they could discuss with lawmakers.

A duo of experts from the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Vice President of Primary Care Innovation Clare McNutt and Vice President of Federal Affairs Rebecca Murrow Klein, delivered on that need, with a presentation on how to talk to lawmakers and their staffs about pediatric integrated behavioral health and the Collaborative Care Model (CoCM).

“When you go to Capitol Hill tomorrow, it’s important to keep in mind that the staff are not always likely to be experts in behavioral health policy. They are very aware of the need to address the children’s mental health crisis, but they will be looking to you for solutions,” said Murow Klein.

Aacap Legislative Conference 01Vice President of Federal Affairs (left) Rebecca Murow Klein and Vice President of Primary Care Innovation Clare McNutt address the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s legislative conference April 15 in Washington, D.C.

Integrated care is one of those solutions, she and McNutt argued, especially CoCM, an extensively evidence-based model for the integration of mental health treatment into primary care that has been shown to be effective for various mental health needs across diverse populations and treatment settings.

In addition to providing a general overview of integrated care for lawmakers, Murow Klein recommended that attendees stress integrated care’s impact on national policy levers such as workforce and cost.

As recent studies have shown, CoCM is financially sustainable, McNutt said, adding that Medicare has been reimbursing for CoCM through novel billing codes since 2018 and most major commercial payers have followed suit. State Medicaid plans are headed in the right direction, with 32 state Medicaid programs adopting the codes to date.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the conference came when a young woman who had previously been hospitalized for a mental health condition asked the Meadows Institute speakers how she can encourage physicians and hospital systems to implement CoCM to reach more pediatric patients before the point of crisis.

“Go and tell your story,” McNutt said from the stage. “Your bravery in speaking out – that’s going to be what moves them.”

Mark Borer, a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Delaware who attended the conference, said that even as a longtime proponent of the pediatric Collaborative Care Model, he came away from McNutt and Murow Klein’s presentation better informed about the power of CoCM to help treat children.

By participating in the model, “we can extend our own workforce, using ourselves, by eight,” said Borer, referring to a new Meadows Institute study that found that prescribing clinicians can extend their reach by up to eight times via participation in CoCM.

Borer said he was inspired to encourage more of his colleagues to adopt integrated care models like CoCM.

“We are going to the Hill tomorrow to advocate for increased care for kids. These senators and congresspeople have passed laws for collaborative and integrative care and [there are] bills coming up that may become law, so we have to be ready for the people, to help them by implementing the models.”

Added Borer: “We can’t just do things the traditional way. We need to have these innovative ways. Child psychiatrists can do both, and enjoy both.”

Aacap Legcon Group Photo
Executive Director of the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Heidi Fordi, Rebecca Murow Klein, Clare McNutt, AACAP President Tami Benton, and AACAP Chief of Advocacy and Practice Transformation Alexis Geier-Horan.