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Two New MeHAF Grants Expand Integrated Care to More Providers Across Maine

Two New MeHAF Grants Expand Integrated Care to More Providers Across Maine

The Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) awarded two new grants that will help expand and sustain the integrated delivery of behavioral health and primary care services by embedding integrated care into key state-wide health system reform initiatives. 

Improving care coordination and delivering integrated services for behavioral health and primary care is a key strategy to promote patient-centered care.  Since 2006, MeHAF has teamed up with an array of partners ranging from provider groups to insurers to patients to promote integrated care.  To date, about 25% of all primary care practices in Maine provide integrated behavioral health and primary care.  Building on this momentum, these new grants will help expand and strengthen integrated care so that by the end of 2014 at least half of all Maine primary care practices will offer integrated services. 

A two-year $200,000 grant to the Maine Primary Care Association (MPCA) will support Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) members develop integrated care services by the end of 2015. With MeHAF funding, MPCA will create a peer organization mentoring system.  Experienced FQHCs will provide on-site support and coaching to sites just starting to provide integrated care.  MPCA staff will assist sites with assessment, implementation planning, regional learning community activities, training sessions and site-specific coaching.

Maine Quality Counts (QC) was awarded a two-year $320,000 grant to support a strategic partnership with Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services to expand integrated care into 50 additional practices that are being added into the expansion of the state-wide Patient Centered Medical Home pilot.  QC will also work with more than 50 practices that are selected for a new MaineCare Health Home initiative, which is a state option offered through the Affordable Care Act.  A Health Home is a team of health care professionals who provide integrated health care and operate under a “whole-person” philosophy – caring for an individual’s physical condition and behavioral health, as well as linking to long-term community care services and supports, social services and family services.  QC will support improvements in the integration of behavioral health and primary care as well as improve the capacity of providers to engage patients as partners in this practice transformation effort.  

As part of the MaineCare Health Homes initiative, behavioral health providers will also be encouraged to provide integrated services to enhance physical health outcomes for patients experiencing Serious and Persistent Mental Illness. On average, these patients die 25 years sooner than their age peers without SPMI in America, primarily from undiagnosed and untreated physical health problems.

A group of behavioral health leaders, convened by MeHAF in September, will work with a national consultant and MaineCare to assess the readiness of behavioral health organizations to transform into Health Homes and will develop a work plan to help sites with the transformation. Late in the year, MeHAF will release a request for proposals (RFP) that will offer one-year planning grants for organizations that are ready to begin the transition to a Health Home model.  

In addition to this new grant funding, MeHAF will continue to support organizations that are adopting and refining their approach to integrated care through our technical assistance programs, coaching on reimbursement and licensing issues, and other learning community activities. The foundation also hosts quarterly Learning Community meetings that feature national and state experts who provide guidance on integrating care.  Interested organizations can access these technical assistance resources from previous meetings on the MeHAF website. 

On November 2, Charlotte Mullican from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will be the featured keynote speaker at the learning community meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport. This meeting will be the first regional New England Integrated Care Learning Community session. Participants from throughout the region will have opportunities to network as well as to gain new insights and skills.

MeHAF has also supported the development of several tools useful for sites integrating care. Its Site Self Assessment was recently selected by AHRQ as one of 17 tools that will be highlighted on its website as a best practice tool.

For information on becoming involved in integrated care activities, contact Becky Hayes Boober, 207-620-8266, x114.

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