In 2006, because of the importance and impending challenges confronting Texas in dealing with the problem of medically indigent individuals, the 10 major academic health institutions in the state sponsored a Task Force to identify strategies for confronting medically indigent care in Texas. These institutions are Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A & M, North Texas, Texas Tech, and the six health institutions of The University of Texas System. The Task Force consisted of individuals selected for their expertise and perspectives with regard to the problem of indigent health care in Texas. Members of the Task Force served as individuals and do not represent any organizations or special interests.
Since its inception, the Code Red Task Force on Access to Health Care in Texas (Task Force) has studied the issues, deliberated, and provided recommendations on improving the health of Texas residents. To improve the health of all Texas residents, the Code Red Task Force recommends the use of available federal funds to allow more low-income, working Texans to obtain health insurance. A significant amount of federal funds are currently used by Texas hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and other health care providers to supplement the low reimbursement rates for the care of Medicaid patients, and to offset the costs of care for the uninsured. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), these payments will be significantly reduced in order to pay for the expansion of health insurance coverage across the country. Such reductions strike especially deep for Texas health care providers due to the rapid increase in population, the high rate of uninsured in our state and the related high cost and increasing amount of uncompensated care.
JSA Health Telepsychiatry solutes the work of the Code Red Task Force with regards to behavioral health and applauds their recognition of telepsychiatry to emergency departments. From the 2015 report:
Recommendation 4. The Task Force recommends continuation of state support for behavioral health initiatives undertaken during the 83rd Legislative Session in 2013. The Task Force recommends that public and private entities:
• Integrate the full continuum of behavioral health services into the overall health care system in order to provide the right care in the right place at the right time. This will include behavioral/primary care teams in health homes, emergency care teams, inpatient services, and community rehabilitation services. Community health workers will be trained in behavioral and physical health subject matter and the relationship/integration of the two.
• Increase the availability of tele-psychiatry in emergency departments, health homes, and school settings.
• Collaborate with the Veterans Health Administration to increase resources and services for veterans with behavioral health issues.
• Expand proven behavioral health crisis intervention programs to reduce inappropriate and ineffective involvement of persons in crisis with the criminal justice system.
Approximately 20% of the Texas population experiences occasional behavioral health problems and 4% of the population suffers from serious mental illness. Among these are approximately 300,000 children with a serious behavioral health problem, including a significant number of adolescents with depression. Three quarters of Texas counties are designated as mental health professional shortage areas with a significant lack of both adult and child psychiatrists. Texas ranks 49th among the states in per capita spending on mental health services even though the Texas Legislature provided over $300 million for the 2014-2015 biennium to improve mental health services. A significant shortage of state-funded hospital beds for patients with serious mental health issues creates enormous pressures on public hospital emergency rooms and the criminal justice system. Emergency rooms must often “board” patients for extended periods due to the lack of psychiatric beds. In addition, behavioral health issues are among the most frequent reasons for hospital readmissions. The criminal justice system incarcerates a substantial number of prisoners who suffer principally from a mental health condition negatively impacting their behavior. Promising approaches for improved behavioral health care, such as crisis stabilization teams and tele-psychiatry, are underway as DSRIP projects.
JSA Health Telepsychiatry is a behavioral health telemedicine practice that provides 24/7 access to high quality telepsychiatry care for a wide variety of settings including emergency departments, community health clinics, educational institutions, correctional facilities and a wide variety of distant locations including cruise ships throughout the world’s oceans. We use high-definition HIPAA compliant telemedicine technologies to connect patients and healthcare organizations to experienced mental health professionals. For more information please call 1-888-792-7122 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.