Biweekly Briefing Articles

5 Things To Know: Study Finds CA Bridge Program is Highly Effective, Funding to Continue; San Diego TB Prevention Education and Community Engagement Summit; San Diego Workforce Partnerships Substance Use Counselor Program; DHCS Publishes Quality Ratings for Managed Care Plans and County Behavioral Health Plans; Medicare Coverage for Behavioral Health Expanded

STUDY FINDS CA BRIDGE PROGRAM IS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE, FUNDING TO CONTINUE: JAMA Network recently published a study highlighting the impact of the CA Bridge Program on opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment in emergency departments (EDs). The study found that 86% of OUD patients received buprenorphine in participating hospitals, with 50% continuing treatment 30 days after discharge from the ED. Treated individuals were twice as likely to stay engaged in treatment. These improvements are highlighted in the Department of Health Care Services’ 2022 Comprehensive Quality Strategy Report.

In response to the Medi-Cal Community Health Worker (CHW) benefit introduced in 2022, DHCS plans to sustain the program after federal funding expires by integrating CHW services, including those provided by behavioral health navigators, into Medi-Cal reimbursement frameworks. This initiative aims to enhance OUD care continuity after ED visits, with ongoing efforts to develop billing pathways for CHW services within Medi-Cal managed care plans. 

San Diego TB Prevention Education and Community Engagement Summit: 

An estimated 175,000 San Diego County residents have latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI), which can progress to active TB if left untreated. San Diego County will host the San Diego TB Prevention Education and Community Engagement Summit on March 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the San Diego Live Well Center.  

Providers and community health advocates serving communities at risk for tuberculosis (TB) should attend. Registration closes on March 8 at 3:59 p.m. 

The event will include: 

  • Presentations 
  • Expert panels 
  • Community planning 
  • Free CME credits 
  • Nursing CE units 
  • Lunch 

SAN DIEGO WORKFORCE PARTNERSHIPS SUBSTANCE USE COUNSELOR PROGRAM: The San Diego Workforce Partnership’s (SDWP) apprentice program provides participants with free tuition for an online training program and pays the registration and certification fees for becoming a certified substance use counselor. SDWP career navigators provide comprehensive job readiness training and case management and help participants access supportive services and stipends for transportation, work clothing, and more. The program’s first participants from fall 2022 will finish their education with the Tarzana Treatment Center College this month and will complete their on-the-job training at the McAllister Institute. We expect to see the first graduates of the program as early as December. 

DHCS PUBLISHES QUALITY RATINGS FOR MANAGED CARE PLANS AND COUNTY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PLANS: On Feb. 14, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) published quality ratings for measurement year 2022 for all managed care plans and county behavioral health plans to drive improvement in support of the DHCS Bold Goals 50×2025 initiative. As DHCS continues working with Medi-Cal plans on quality improvement, Medi-Cal members can expect to see more plan engagement and outreach to ensure their medical needs are prioritized, especially preventive care and primary care services. 

MEDICARE COVERAGE FOR BEHAVIORAL HEALTH EXPANDED: The Department of Health Care Services announced that Medicare will cover visits with mental health counselors, addiction counselors, and marriage and family therapists, effective since Jan. 1. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will conduct both routine and focused program audits of Medicare Advantage organizations in 2024 to assess compliance with new requirements. For more information, refer to the DHCS fact sheet.