Ensuring an accessible and sustainable continuum of care requires more than excellence in service delivery. Community-based mental health organizations have been “doing more with less” for too long; it’s unsustainable, and our clients deserve better.
Advocacy is one of four pillars in Guild’s most recent strategic plan—meaning it’s among the highest priorities for our organization. We’re committed to being vocal advocates for legislative, regulatory, and societal changes that will benefit our clients and improve our ability to do our work.
Our Current Priorities
Overview: Increase our ability to respond to our rapidly changing workforce and shortage of mental health professionals.
Relevant Bills: HF1436 and SF1679 would increase loan forgiveness for mental health providers, create a mental health workforce center that would serve as a hub for building a pipeline from high school to work, and provide scholarships to cover some of the costs of licensure, including supervision.
Overview: 80% of Guild’s revenue is reimbursement from public health insurance. The rates are not sustainable, and some of the methodologies for determining rates year-over-year are flawed.
Relevant Bills: HF1683 and SF1615 make key changes to the rate setting process for four of our service areas—ACT, Behavioral Health Home, Residential Treatment and Crisis Residential. The proposed change, allowing us to include “anticipated workforce costs” to our rate setting process, would help us to obtain sustainable rates.
HF346 and SF926 provide a temporary rate increase of 30% to mental health providers who provide outpatient services, allowing them to maintain services while waiting for the Medicaid systems rate changes which is expected in three years.
Overview: We are lacking affordable housing across all income levels, which has led to serious housing insecurity and an ever-growing population of unhoused people in all areas of our state.
Relevant Bills: HF1696 and SF1603 expand a rental assistance program called “Bridges” that supports people who are coming out of residential treatment facilities. Also included is additional funding for a landlord risk fund, which reimburses landlords in cases of property damage.
Pathway Home Act: HF444 and SF388 allocate $150 million from the General Fund in fiscal year 2024 for emergency shelter facilities.
It would also appropriate $77.25 million in the 2024-25 biennium from the General Fund to the Department of Human Services for various homeless services:
- $40 million for emergency services grants;
- $25 million for Homeless Youth Act grants;
- $9 million for transitional housing programs;
- $2 million for Homeless Youth chosen family grants; and
- $1.25 million for a homeless management information system.
Heading Home Ramsey: HF 1686 and SF 2033. $75 million will fund five critical interventions for five years in Ramsey County:
- Continued shelter options for single adults including expanded women’s shelter options. The need for women’s shelter space frequently exceeds supply.
- 100-bed shelter for families and additional support for families. This model, established during the pandemic, has produced significantly improved outcomes for families, moving them into housing more quickly.
- Continued operation of day service shelters, providing support to individuals to help them stabilize, connect with resources, and move off the street.
- A low-barrier pilot program serving frequent users of emergency shelter with intensive, 24/7 staffing.
- Outreach, system improvements, and extreme weather support to help address critical immediate needs and move people onto a path to housing more quickly.
Overview: Guild provides IPS employment services, an evidence-based model that has proven effective in placement and maintenance of jobs. Currently there are few providers of this valuable service as we’ve lacked funds and the rates are not sustainable.
Relevant Bills: HF1697 and SF1779 would create a task force to identify barriers to employment for people with serious mental illness and two years of additional grants to sustain and expand employment services across the state.
Mental Health Parity
Overview: Many years ago, a law was passed that made it mandatory for any health insurer who included mental health benefits in a plan to pay for mental health at the same level and standards as physical health. This is still not enforced.
Relevant Bills: HF1677 and SF1491 revise network adequacy standards. Currently, insurers determine how many providers are in-network based on geography and what they determine to be an adequate number. Research has shown that more people pay for mental health services out-of-network than other specialists. This bill would expand that definition to create more in-network providers, as well as mandate that insurance companies create consistent guidelines for certain administrative rules providers need to follow to ensure payment. The current system is inconsistent, which leads to confusion and creates the need for more administrative support.
You Can Help
- Review our Advocacy 101 blog for specific ways to get started working with your legislators.
- Talk about mental health in your social circles, family, and colleagues in ways that reduce stigma.
- Subscribe to newsletters from advocacy groups like NAMI.
- Get involved in your local advisory councils.
Reach out to your local, state, and national representatives to advocate for policy change.
The Mental Health Legislative Network (MHLN) 2023 Agenda
Guild is a proud member of the Mental Health Legislative Network (MHLN): a broad coalition that advocates for a statewide mental health system that is of high quality, accessible, and has stable funding. The organizations in the MHLN all work together to create visibility on mental health issues, act as a clearinghouse on public policy issues, and pool our knowledge, resources, and strengths to create change.
As part of our work together, we’ve developed a complete 2023 legislative agenda—the “Blue Book”—which guides the priorities listed above. It includes helpful information such as issue descriptions, background information, and specific policy recommendations for each priority area that can be used to increase your personal knowledge of the issues, and equip you with important information when speaking with your legislators.