Steve’s News Blast for February 2016

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I’m so glad to hear that we will no longer be concerned about breaking the law every time we sing Happy Birthday.  Yes, no more royalty payments due that go unpaid, Happy Birthday will soon be in the public domain.  I am also glad to hear that very soon respite care funds will be available to many, many more Idaho families. 
 
Thanks to Ross Edmunds and the Department of Behavioral Health, as well as advocates throughout the state, eligibility for families to access existing respite care funding through Children’s Mental Health will be expanded.  In addition, another plan that would greatly expand available funding and access to respite care funds has been included in the budget proposed to the legislature. The need for respite care and assistance paying for it has been one of the top service requests made by families and an advocacy priority of the Federation.  Yes Virginia, advocacy does lead to action. 
 
But like most good things, there is a hitch…… who will provide the respite care?  Currently, a family with respite funding can hire anyone they choose to provide respite, be it a family member, friend or professional but very often, there is no one willing or able to be found to provide the service.  Although the Federation maintains a statewide directory of respite care providers who have passed a background check and watched a short Federation training webinar, the number of folks listed are few.  Respite care is needed and so are respite care providers.  See below for more on this need and what you can do about it.  For more on respite, and our Emergency Caregiver Respite project, give us a call.
 
And there is more to be glad about.  The Federation has initiated the Parent Support Partner training program (PSP) for parents interested in becoming certified by the state and eligible for employment by mental health providers.  The state certification allows for Medicaid billing for PSPs, and offering trained parents with “lived” experience to assist families is a service that has proved successful in many states.  The first training of parents took place in Coeur d’Alene a few weeks ago, and the first 25 parents have graduated from the training and await state certification.  
Congratulations to those 25 parents for undertaking a 40 hour training offered by our team led by Rebekah Casey and Carol Dixon.  Training will take place in each of the three regional Behavioral Health hubs.  See elsewhere in this NewsBlast for more information on upcoming training or visit the idahofederation.org website.  The Federation has advocated for this program for several years, working with the Department of Health and Welfare, Medicaid and Optum Idaho to make the program a reality, and another long awaited but great success for advocates. 
 
Speaking of success for advocates, I am very glad to learn that the “Maniac” license plate proposed for Idaho as a fund raiser for a school with a maniac for a mascot, has been held up by the Transportation Committee for amendment.  Although the cartoon image of a guy wearing only a hospital gown and apparently freaking out may still appear on Idaho plates someday, stalling this bill is the result of the testimony given to the committee from anti-stigma advocates and advocates who sent e mail and made calls to legislators.  
 
So yes Virginia, advocacy can lead to action, but it also can take a long time.  And it feels like it has been a very long time since the advocacy effort to help thousands of Idahoans through the expansion of Medicaid started.  That effort has evolved to “Closing the Gap” for 78,000 Idahoans and the “Healthy Idaho” plan.  Years have passed, it is estimated that some one thousand Idahoans have died as a result of no action, and millions of dollars have not come to Idaho from the federal government to pay for providing health care to those thousands in need. 
 
But there has been some action this legislative session, and legislators who have refused to even discuss Medicaid expansion are at least discussing it and holding listening sessions.  Being discussed are the original expansion offer which appears to be totally rejected, the Healthy Idaho plan which has garnered massive support and a new proposal from the Governor that does not appear to be as helpful to people as other plans would be.  Advocacy is clearly still needed and if there ever is a plan to offer health care to thousands of Idahoans, it will be the result of the effort of advocates.
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