BERKELEY, Calif. – April 10, 2018 – The United States spends an estimated $201 billion annually on mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, making it the costliest category of health care conditions. To help employers tackle this pressing area, the non-profit Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) is releasing new tools to aid purchasers in understanding and evaluating mental health services.
“Mental health underlies so many facets of our broader health and wellbeing,” said Suzanne Delbanco, PhD, executive director of CPR. “And yet despite the high prevalence of mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety, our system is not set up effectively to treat and manage these conditions. We’ve developed resources to arm purchasers with clear standards to send a strong signal to the industry and motivate mental health care providers and vendors to invest in closing the gaps.”
Tackling mental health issues head on
Throughout the last year, CPR worked with eight leading employers and other health care purchasers, including 32BJ Health Fund, AT&T, Equity Healthcare, FedEx Corporation, King County, SEIU 775 Benefits Group, and the State of Minnesota to identify how mental health care offerings could better meet the needs of purchasers.
Each purchaser in the group is active in their own efforts to improve mental health care for their employee populations. For example, AT&T participates in Association for Behavioral Health & Wellness’ Stamp Out Stigma Campaign. AT&T matches in dollars (up to $10,000) the number of employees who sign their name to a pledge committing to support those with mental illness or substance use disorders. AT&T has donated thousands of dollars to Mental Health America as a result of employee participation, including a record donation of $10,000 for last year’s campaign. Despite successes like this shared among the group, each purchaser also came to the table with their own frustrations about the state of mental health care.
Setting clear expectations for the mental health care marketplace
The group identified the greatest barriers preventing them from delivering best-in-class mental health care, including challenges with providing adequate access, measuring and improving quality, and effectively integrating mental health care with medical care.
CPR created detailed evaluation criteria for its members and the broader purchaser community to use in assessing how well their current or prospective partners in the mental health space are addressing these barriers. These criteria can help purchasers evaluate health plans, employee assistance providers (EAPs), telehealth providers, navigation services and digital solutions.
“As a purchaser of mental health services, we need visibility into which solutions will most effectively help our caregiver population,” said Rebecca Fraynt, Senior Program Manager for Health Improvement Programs, SEIU775 Benefits Group. “We have already used CPR’s tool to assess vendors against these criteria to help us understand which are likely to improve the health and wellbeing of our caregivers.”
Evaluating high value options on behalf of purchasers
In addition to releasing these tools to the purchaser community, CPR will evaluate the current capabilities of many mental health vendors on its behalf. The goal is to help purchasers make more informed decisions about which mental health solutions can best meet their needs moving forward. CPR will release the insights it garners from this work in a State of the Mental Health Care Marketplace report for its 30+ members later this year.
“The ecosystem of mental health solutions is evolving rapidly,” said Michelle Harika, Chief Clinical Officer, Equity Healthcare. “By doing a comprehensive review of the solutions available, CPR is directly empowering its members to discern which are rooted in clinical evidence and really advancing our options.”
Hear directly from employers and innovators
On Tuesday, May 1, 2018 from 1:00 pm– 3:30 pm EDT, CPR hosted a virtual forum featuring leading employers who will discuss their biggest challenges with mental health care services and their priorities for the future. The event will also spotlight select mental health vendors, including Optum, AbleTo, and meQuilibirum, who will share how they are working to address gaps in access, quality, and integration between mental health and medical care. Click here for additional details.
CPR’s diverse membership includes Aon Hewitt, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission, The Dow Chemical Company, Equity Healthcare, Pitney Bowes, Willis Towers Watson, and many other large private and public purchasers.
About Catalyst for Payment Reform
Catalyst for Payment Reform is an independent, non-profit organization working on behalf of large employers and other health care purchasers to catalyze employers, public purchasers and others to implement strategies that produce higher-value health care and improve the functioning of the health care marketplace. For more information visit: www.catalyze.org and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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