Biweekly Briefing Articles

5 Things To Know: Medi-Cal Managed Care Contract Appeals, HQI Annual Conference, Behavioral Health, New Homeless Shelter, and Medical Device Vulnerability

MEDI-CAL MANAGED CARE CONTRACT APPEALS: Aetna Better Health of California, Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan, Community Health Group, and Centene Corporation have all appealed the Department of Health Care Services’ notice of intent to award Medi-Cal Managed Care contracts in San Diego County. Health Net — owned by Centene — was awarded contracts in a number of counties, it is protesting its absence from Los Angeles County. In its appeal, Health Net contends that its historical presence and work providing Medi-Cal in the region merits its continued provision of managed care in the county.

HQI ANNUAL CONFERENCE: The Hospital Quality Institute (HQI) has suspended member registration fees for its Annual Conference, which will be held in two locations — Oct. 3-4 in Long Beach and Nov. 6-7 in Napa. This move is in response to the unprecedented cost and care challenges facing California hospitals. Hear more from HQI President Robert Imhoff as he explains the decision to make the conference free for members. The conference will feature:

NEW HOMELESS SHELTER: The first city-funded shelter on county property and not in downtown has opened in San Diego. Located in the Midway District, the 150-bed shelter will be open 24/7 and offer access to behavioral and psychiatric services, including mental health professionals and addiction resources. It will also provide access to meals, restrooms, showers, air conditioning, laundry machines, security, and storage spaces for their belongings. The shelter, which opened Sept. 12, is located in the County Health and Human Services complex and is a partnership of the county, city, and the Lucky Duck Foundation. It will be run by the Alpha Project, with mental health services provided by Vista Hill. 

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH: A number of opportunities and resources are available for California hospitals:  

  • Funding opportunity. The deadline for the next round of applications for the California Bridge Program, which supports hospitals and emergency departments in becoming primary access points for the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring behavioral health conditions, is Sept. 30. Hospitals participating in the Bridge Navigator Program will address SUD as a treatable emergency condition, utilizing trained navigators to identify patients who would benefit from initiating medication-assisted treatment and accessing other behavioral health services. Successful applicants will receive up to $120,000 per hospital. More information and application details can be found in this document.
  • Resources for youth. The California Health and Human Services (CalHHS) Agency has compiled resources to support the mental health of youth, including a list of organizations youth can access for personal use; resources for parents, family, and friends; and resources for schools and teachers. The CalHHS website highlights back-to-school resources, suicide prevention awareness month information, and the CalHOPE website.
  • Online learning. This new course on Whole-Person Care for Opioid Use Disorder from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will provide foundational information about neurobiology and prevalence of opioid use disorder (OUD), the whole-person care framework and best practices, treatment and recovery support for OUD, and supporting housing stability for individuals with OUD.

MEDICAL DEVICE VULNERABILITY: The FBI has identified an increasing number of vulnerabilities posed by unpatched medical devices that run on outdated software and devices that lack adequate security features. Cyber threat actors exploiting medical device vulnerabilities adversely impact health care facilities’ operational functions, patient safety, data confidentiality, and data integrity. Medical device vulnerabilities predominantly stem from device hardware design and device software management. Of note is the fact that, as of January 2022, a research report conducted by a cybersecurity firm found that 53% of connected medical devices and other internet of things (IoT) devices in hospitals had known critical vulnerabilities. Approximately one-third of health care IoT devices have an identified critical risk potentially implicating technical operation and functions of medical devices. FBI recommendations for actively securing medical devices, identifying vulnerabilities, and increasing employee awareness reporting in order to help mitigate the risk posed by medical devices, can be found in this document.