HEA 1007, Expanding Mental Health Access (Kirchhofer), makes a number of changes that would expand access to treatment and respond to workforce shortage issues. HEA 1007 responds to the workforce shortage impacted by substance use. Of course it is well documented that Indiana faces an opioid crisis and the response must include prevention, treatment and enforcement-as well as employment. The opioid epidemic is impacting the available labor force and thus the Gross State Product (GSP). According to national data, approximately 25% of job applicants nationwide test positive on drug tests and most are dismissed as a result. According to an analysis by Ryan Brewer, Ph.D, MBA, Associate Professor of Finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, the direct loss to the Indiana economy arising from opiate misuse is estimated at $1.5Billion per year.
HEA 1007 includes language offered by Rep Steve Davisson that would create a voluntary program for employers who wish to assist new hires and tenured employees with addiction treatment as a condition of continued employment. The Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) will provide guidelines for the treatment programs to insure comprehensive and evidenced based treatment. DMHA will also develop and provide resources and training for employers regarding substance use disorder. Further, data will be collected to monitor the effectiveness of the program. Employers are provided immunity protections to assertions of negligent hiring.
HEA 1007 creates an important tool to address both the opioid epidemic and workforce shortage with a public private partnership that includes employers and employees.
In addition, HEA 1007 permits the Division of Mental Health and Addiction to approve 9 additional opioid treatment programs through hospitals or community mental health centers to assure comprehensive treatment. The goal will be to have an OTP within an hour’s drive of anyone in the state.
Further, the bill would make a number of changes in the area of behavioral health licensing and credentialing to respond to workforce needs.
Specifically, HEA 1007 will require accident and sickness insurance policies regulated by Indiana law to provide coverage for SUD treatment by licensed addiction counselors. In addition, temporary permits will be available while clinicians pursue the supervisory hours required for licensure. The process for credentialing providers will also be streamlined and made more centralized. Finally, the provider pool for Recovery Works will be expanded to include individuals licensed by IPLA who provide behavioral health services.
HEA 1006, Broadening Criminal Justice Treatment Options (Steuerwald), continues the effort to provide treatment to those who interface with the criminal justice system. HEA 1006 was recommended by the Judicial Reinvestment Advisory Council (JRAC) and will add probation departments, pretrial diversion programs, and jail treatment programs to programs that are eligible for state grants for Community Corrections.
In addition, HEA 1006 will allow the Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) to establish a pilot program, subject to available funding and upon the recommendation of JRAC, to provide mental health and addiction forensic treatment services to individuals charged with a misdemeanor. This is the Recovery Works program that is limited to serving individuals either charged with a felony or with a felony in their criminal history. This pilot would allow DMHA to create a program that would provide earlier intervention, presumably more effective treatment at a lower cost, and potentially preventing further advancement in the criminal justice system.