Senate Holds Hearing on Behavioral Healthcare Policy Solutions

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee held a hearing this week to examine how to improve access to behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment and address inequities.  Committee members voiced strong support for what is being recognized as a crisis in access, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Several senators noted the severe shortages in the behavioral health workforce and the need to better integrate physical and behavioral healthcare.

Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, (D) Oregon, noted recent progress, like making reimbursement for Medicare telehealth services permanent, and plans through the American Rescue Plan Act to support programs that team up mental health workers and police in response to individuals in mental health crisis.  While these are positive steps, Wyden also noted there is much more to do.

Here in Connecticut, the General Assembly has also extended expanded insurance coverage, both commercial and Medicaid, for telehealth services including behavioral health treatment. In addition, among other measures, legislators passed provisions for expanded 24/7 mobile mental health crisis services, a mental health toolkit for employers with employees experiencing pandemic-related mental health issues, and pilot programs to demonstrate the value of peer navigators for patients with opioid use disorder. In addition, Governor Lamont has indicated his intention to invest $54.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds in additional Medicaid and stimulus funding to support adult and children's behavioral health. 


CDC Reports Age and Race Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination During Pregnancy

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicates only 11% of pregnant women in the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink, which includes vaccine safety monitoring data from nine integrated health systems, were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by May 8, compared with 25% of non-pregnant women.  Receipt of at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy was highest among women aged 35-49 years (22.7%) and lowest among those aged 18-24 years (5.5%), and higher among Asian (24.7%) and white women (19.7%) than among Latinas (11.9%) and Black women (6.0%).

Research suggests that pregnant women are at increased risk for infection and severe COVID-19-associated illness.


Study of Long-Haul COVID-19 Prevalence Coincides with New CDC Treatment Guidance

About one-fifth of COVID-19 survivors whose initial disease was asymptomatic are developing one or more symptoms of Long-Haul COVID weeks or months later.  According to a study by FAIR Health, a not-for-profit dedicated to healthcare transparency, private insurance claims show people who had no symptoms of COVID-19 when they tested positive later develop symptoms associated with Long-Haul COVID.  

Long-Haul COVID has the potential to affect most body systems.  The most common symptoms are pain, difficulty breathing, hyperlipidemia, fatigue, hypertension, and anxiety which may last months after the initial infection.  The CDC this week released new guidance for physicians on how to treat Long-Haul COVID, developed in collaboration with the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others.  Patients are advised to share their positive COVID-19 test result with their doctor if they develop unexplained symptoms after a COVID-19 diagnosis.


Education Updates

HIPAA Privacy, Security & Breach Rules: Keeping Current to Remain Compliant
Wednesday, June 23, and Wednesday, June 30, 2021 12:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.
Virtual Sessions

This two-part program will cover HIPAA Privacy Rule and HIPAA Breach Rule requirements for healthcare providers, with an emphasis on enhanced patient access rights, regulatory enforcement trends that signal emerging risk areas, necessary policies and procedures, and the need to incorporate the Information Blocking Rule exceptions and principles into HIPAA compliance programs.  The program will also cover the importance of prioritizing HIPAA security planning in the face of increasing cyber threats.

Two topics of special interest will be covered:

  • NEW: Significant changes to HIPAA Rules under consideration by federal authorities
  • Lessons learned from the pandemic, including for telehealth and public health reporting adjustments: HIPAA bends during the public health emergency, but not very far

Fees: $75.00 for each registrant from a CHA member institution
        $150.00 for each registrant from a non-CHA member institution

  • Click here to register for this two-day June 23 and June 30 event


Pharmacokinetics in Opioid Use Disorder and Breastfeeding
Thursday, June 24, 2021 5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
Virtual Session

Human milk feeding is associated with better health outcomes for both the infant and mother, yet certain populations—including women with opioid use disorder—are less likely to provide breast milk to their infant.  These disparities have been perpetuated by concern that the risk of infant drug exposure outweighs the benefits of human milk.  This session will discuss evidence-based methods to support a mother's infant feeding choice, as well as infant and maternal health relating to breastfeeding in women with opioid use disorder.  This program is part of the Parents Recovering from Opioid Use Disorders (PROUD) series. 

There is no fee for this event.

  • Click here to register for this Thursday, June 24 session


Opioid Use in Greater Hartford: Using the Data to Get the Big Picture
Wednesday, July 14, 2021 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Virtual Session

This program provides an overview of recent data trends related to opioid use disorder in Connecticut, with a focus on the Greater Hartford area, including factors contributing to substance use disorder and to the continued rise in overdose death rates in the Greater Hartford area.  This program is part of the Parents Recovering from Opioid Use Disorders (PROUD) series. 

There is no fee for this event. 

  • Click here to register for this Wednesday, July 14 session


Implicit Bias: Awareness, Accountability, and Action
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Tuesday, August 10, 2021.
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Tuesday, September 14, 2021 
Virtual Sessions

All sessions run from 9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Implicit bias refers to the unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that can affect understanding, actions, and decisions.  From an awareness standpoint, healthcare clinicians need to be fully aware of the complexities and impact of implicit bias on patient experience and engagement.  Looking at accountability, healthcare clinicians need to acknowledge, challenge, and manage their biases.  From an action perspective, healthcare clinicians need tools, skills, and strategies for comfort, confidence, and competence to connect, communicate, and effectively collaborate cross-culturally.  This program is part of the Parents Recovering from Opioid Use Disorders (PROUD) series.

There is no fee for this program.  Class size is limited and all sessions are identical.  Sessions are filling up quickly, so new dates have been added to accommodate high demand.

  • Click here to register for the Thursday, July 29 session
  • Click here to register for the Wednesday, August 4 session
  • Click here to register for the Tuesday, August 10 session
  • Click here to register for the Tuesday, August 24 session
  • Click here to register for the Tuesday, September 14 session