Happy Holidays from Harbage Consulting

By  Jennifer Ryan, Vice President and Hilary Haycock, President

As 2018 comes to a close, we want to take a moment to thank all of you for sharing in our mission of promoting access to affordable health coverage and care. We are grateful to our clients and partners, new and longstanding, for your faith in Harbage Consulting and for the many strong relationships we have forged over the years. We are so proud of the work we have done for you this year! Here are a few highlights:

Developing Alternatives to Minnesota’s Provider Tax

At the request of the Minnesota Medical Association, Carol Backstrom and Jennifer Ryan teamed up with the SHADAC, at the University of Minnesota, to conduct an analysis and provide recommendations for alternatives to the state’s existing health care provider tax. The goal was to develop options that the legislature might consider during the 2019 session that would generate enough revenue to continue funding the state’s Health Care Access Fund – which supports the MinnesotaCare and medical assistance programs, among other initiatives – but reduce the administrative and financial burden on providers. The MMA Board approved Harbage Consulting’s recommendation at its November 17th meeting.

Informing Beneficiaries through “My Care, My Choice”

In California, beneficiaries have up to six types of options for receiving integrated care, from accountable care organizations to Cal MediConnect, the state’s integrated Medicare-Medicaid program. In order to help “Medi-Medi’s” understand how the choices are different – and why they might be better than traditional Medicare – the SCAN Foundation, Hilary Haycock and Ryan MacDonald from Harbage Consulting, and other partners created the web tool My Care, My Choice. Hilary also authored a blog posted on October 17th to announce the launch of the new website. 

Combatting the Opioid Crisis in Alaska

Carol Backstrom and Jennifer Ryan are supporting the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on the design and negotiation of a Medicaid Section 1115 waiver to create a data-driven, integrated behavioral health system of care for Alaskans with serious mental illness, severe emotional disturbance, and/or substance use disorders (SUDs). On November 21, CMS approved the SUD portion of the waiver. New benefits include the use of universal SUD screenings, early intervention, community-based step-up/step-down clinical services, and supports that establish and sustain recovery.

Promoting HOPE in Hawai‘i

In mid-2018, the Harbage Consulting team, including Carol Backstrom, Tanya Schwartz, Megan Thomas, Lilly Clements, and Jennifer Ryan began supporting the State of Hawai‘i in its ongoing endeavor to ensure that all of its residents have access to comprehensive health and social services through Medicaid. We assisted the state in finalizing, submitting and negotiating its QUEST Integration 1115 Waiver renewal, as well as a new set of housing support services; and we are involved in the implementation planning for the Hawai‘i ‘Ohana Nui Project Expansion initiative.

Continuing to Support the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System

Molly Brassil, Courtney Kashiwagi, Chelsea Kelleher, Allison Valentine, with support from the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), created two new resources designed to provide information about California’s Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery system. The documents – an Overview of DMC-ODS and a paper describing How Medi-Cal Is Improving Treatment for Substance Use Disorder in California – were distributed at the Foundation’s capitol briefing on December 6th. These documents complement a more detailed paper on this important topic – Medi-Cal Moves Addiction Treatment into the Mainstream:  Early Lessons from the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System Pilots.   

Developing Recommendations for SAMHSA’s Mental Health Continuum of Care

Through our firm’s first federal contract with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Tanya Schwartz, Don Kingdon and Molly Brassil spent six months conducting a literature review of behavioral health models and evidence-based services and interviewed a number of experts in the field. The project yielded a detailed set of guidelines designed to help SAMHSA create a national expectation that adults with serious mental illness (SMI) receive services that recognize and support a uniform array of evidence-based services to help individuals on their recovery journey.

Supporting Care Coordination Efforts in California’s Medi-Cal Program

Harbage Consulting continues to support California’s Department of Health Care Services on a number of programs designed to improve care coordination for Medi-Cal beneficiaries, including the Health Homes Program for beneficiaries with chronic and/or serious mental illness, which launched in July 2018. We continue to support the Coordinated Care Initiative for dual eligibles, the learning collaboratives for the Whole Person Care and PRIME programs, as well as work to support the Care Coordination Assessment Project.

Our firm also launched a number of major new projects for 2019, with highlights including:

  • MACFin. Over the next three years, Harbage Consulting will be supporting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (through a subcontract with the Data Computer Corporation of America) by leading a series of focus groups to gather feedback on the design of a new Medicaid and CHIP Financial Information System (MACFin).  The focus groups will be facilitated by Jennifer Ryan and Carol Backstrom, and will take place across the country and at several stages of the project in order to ensure a continuous feedback loop.
  • California’s State Opioid Response (SOR) Grant. The Harbage Consulting team, including Molly Brassil, Courtney Kashiwagi, Lucy Pagel, Chelsea Kelleher, and Allison Valentine will continue to support the Department of Health Care Services in its comprehensive and ongoing work to stem the tide of addiction in the state. The latest SAMHSA grant, totaling $140 million over two years, provides a significant amount of new resources for the state to test new and innovative prevention and treatment strategies, as well as to reinvest resources in current strategies that are proving to be successful. 

As part of our continued efforts to highlight the important health policy and communications issues of the day, we continue to publish regular blog posts on a range of topics, including:

Thanks again for your support and interest in the work we do.  Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2019!