MN Updating Mental Health Access

Rural Minnesota (MN) faces a critical shortage of mental health providers and now provides mental health care via what is referred to as telemental health as a means to solve mental health access problems. To initiate a telepresence in rural Minnesota, the Arrowhead Health Alliance created the Arrowhead Telepresence Coalition (ATC).

The ATC now provides behavioral healthcare via remote diagnosis using video and audio to seven counties, three Indian tribes, community-based mental health providers, crisis response providers, medical providers, jails, and schools.

A bill (HF1561) sponsored by Representative Rod Hamilton in the Minnesota House of Representatives if passed would expand telemedicine services by increasing the number of people to provide these services. The bill would also end a weekly limit of three telemedicine services to the number or reimbursable services each patient could receive.

Also, under current law, reimbursable telemedicine services can only be provided by licensed healthcare providers. This leaves out mental health practitioners, including graduate students in clinical training and practitioners with graduate degrees, but have less than 4,000 hours of post- master’s experience.

The bill would allow these groups to provide telehealth services under supervision. A companion bill (SF1341) sponsored by Senator Jim Abeler from Anoka Minnesota awaits action by the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.

In a new program, Minnesota was selected as one of the first states to pilot a new mental and chemical healthcare pilot, called “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics” (CCBHC) in place to help people with mental illness and substance use disorders.

Another new pilot program called “Coordinated Specialty Care” will be established to serve people 15 to 40 years old showing early sings of psychosis. Three organizations will receive up to $2.97 million for the pilot in federal funds through the State of Minnesota.

Organizations such as the Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of Minnesota in their Psychiatry Clinic in St. Louis Park will be able to serve up to 30 people. The third organization includes the Minnesota Center for Chemical and Mental Health which will provide technical support including training, consultation, and community information sessions.

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