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AMHCA’s “Dashed Hopes” Report Receives National Publicity

AMHCA’s communications wing has been in overdrive for the last several months, getting the word out to mental health counselors about the impact of healthcare reform on the clinical mental health counseling profession. 

In addition to in-depth articles in The Advocate that have been promoted on AMHCA’s website and social media platforms, AMHCA Executive Director & CEO Joel E. Miller authored a report on the importance of Medicaid Expansion that earned national publicity in March.

Through statistics and impassioned prose, the report—“Dashed Hopes, Broken Promises, More Despair: How the Lack of State Participation in the Medicaid Expansion Will Punish Americans With Mental 

Illness”—documents the ways families and communities suffer needlessly due to the lack of health insurance coverage. 

An AMHCA press release went out to more than 300 different media contacts, and calls were made to targeted health reporters at media outlets in states that have so far declined to participate in Medicaid Expansion.

As a result of the publicity push, Miller landed a TV interview and two radio interviews, and articles about the report’s findings appeared in various publications, including the March 3 issue of Mental Health Weekly. 

In addition, Reuters, an international news agency, ran AMHCA’s press release online, as did the St. Louis Post Dispatch. 

Newsweek, KaiserHealth News, and Yahoo News all posted articles about the report, and several health policy analysts wrote favorable online articles, including Reid Wilson ofThe Washington Post. 

The press release was also picked up by the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health website, the Coalition for Healthy Economic Growth, (Missouri), Mental Health Rehab, and ACES News About Science and Health Specialties, among others.

Most recently, the “Dashed Hopes” report was cited in a March 26 congressional hearing at which a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee panel heard testimony from AMHCA Director-at-Large LaMarr Edgerson, PsyD, LMFT, NBCCH. At that hearing, AMHCA’s report was directed to be placed in the Congressional Record.

The report was also cited by Issue Lab, which gathers, indexes, and shares thousands of case studies, evaluations, white papers, and issue briefs addressing pressing social problems.

Read the “Dashed Hopes” report. Watch the March 26 hearing on YouTube.

AMHCA Issue Briefs Throw Light  on Important Issues Related  to Healthcare Reform

The first of eight issue briefs on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) written by AMHCA Executive Director & CEO Joel E. Miller is available to download at no charge from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. 

The first in the series is on strategies for enrolling uninsured people in Medicaid Expansion or State Health Insurance Marketplaces. While the NASMHPD posts the issue briefs on its website, Miller is writing the issue briefs under a grant that AMHCA receives.

The next three issue briefs are: “New Service Delivery Models and Integration,” “Preventing Mental Illness and Mental Health Promotion,” and “Health Information Technology and Care Coordination.”

The first issue brief, “Strategies to Enroll Uninsured People with Mental Health Conditions under the Affordable Care Act,” includes the following sections:

  • Education about the shift from a service-delivery model to a health insurance model
  • How healthcare reform strengthens Medicaid’s role in ending homelessness
  • Enrolling county jail and probation populations in health coverage
  • Ensuring Medicaid-eligible youth are enrolled as they transition from correctional systems
  • Helping those who have fought for us: enrolling veterans with a mental illness
  • Outreach strategies for other hard-to-reach groups: Hispanics, Native Americans, rural residents
  • Strengthening enrollment efforts to increase health insurance for men of color


Healthcare Reform Brings Crucial Health Coverage to Jail Population

Reforms could provide first-ever coverage for mental illness and other problems that increase the risk of recidivism

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), an estimated 4 million people who have spent time in jail will have better access to health coverage for conditions that might—if left untreated—result in higher healthcare costs 

and an increased risk of recidivism, according to a report published in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Jails, unlike prisons, typically house offenders who have been detained or arrested by the police—often for misdemeanors or nonviolent crimes. In many cases, people who are mentally ill, have substance use problems, or are homeless are picked up and sent to jail for a short period and then released back into the community. 

Without follow-up care or treatment, they are at risk of another arrest and the cycle repeats, say the authors of the report, “What the Affordable Care Act Means for People With Jail Stays.”

Medicaid does not provide coverage for people serving time in jail and neither does the Affordable Care Act. However, under the ACA, people with a history of a jail stay may be eligible for Medicaid coverage upon release—particularly if they live in a state that has opted to expand its Medicaid program.

According to the analysis, an estimated one out of six people expected to enroll in Medicaid under the new state expansion programs will have spent some time in jail during the past year. 

AMHCA Award Nominations Are Due
on May 23—Nominate
a Peer, a State
Chapter, or Yourself!

The Member Services Committee invites all AMHCA members to submit nominations for individuals or AMHCA state chapters that have made outstanding progress in the last year. Visit AMHCA’s website fora complete description of this year’s Awards categories.

Winners of AMHCA awards will be recognized at the Annual Awards luncheon in Seattle this year atAMHCA’s Annual Conference.

Friday, May 23, 2014, is the deadline for nominations.

Information on submission requirements.

To date, 25 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid programs to cover more of the low-income population.

Another one out of 10 people enrolling in health plans under the insurance Marketplaces will have a history of a recent jail stay, according to the report. Under the ACA, people who are poor but still do not qualify for Medicaid can often purchase an affordable health plan by going to the online insurance Marketplaces.

About 64 percent of people incarcerated in jails meet the criteria for mental illness at the time of their booking and the same high number have problems related to alcohol or drug abuse, the authors note.

Source: Press release from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services

AMHCA’s Journal, JMHC, Is Now Free to Members

As a new benefit of membership, AMHCA members may now download articles from the four most recent issues of the Journal of Mental Health Counseling (JMHC)—at no charge. 

Read about the latest research plus case studies and approaches to use today in your work with clients. Member login to the AMHCA website is required. Members will continue to receive the printed publication each quarter, in January, April, July, and October.

Nonmembers may purchase access to articles online. Electronic subscriptions are also available.

Following are some of the articles from the January 2014 issue of JMHC (Vol. 36, No. 1)

  • Conducting Child Custody Evaluations: Best Practices for Mental Health Counselors Who Are Court-Appointed as Child Custody Evaluators
  • Interactive Journaling as a Clinical Tool
  • Personal and Contextual Predictors of Mental Health Counselors’ Compassion Fatigue and Burnout
  • STRENGTH: A System of Integration of Solution-Oriented and Strength-Based Principles
  • Monitoring Alliance and Outcome with Client Feedback Measures
  • Master Counselors as Teachers: Clinical Practices of Counselor Educators 

Article topics from within the last year also include:

  • Smart-phone applications in clinical practice
  • Shared trauma in counseling
  • Survivor dissociative identity disorder
  • Building a practice in rural settings
  • The self-employed mental health counselor
  • Diversifying service options in private practice
  • Text messaging best practices
  • Assessing non-suicidal self-injury
  • Stress, spiritual coping, and bulimia: feeling punished by God/Higher Power
  • Integrating leadership skills into anger-management groups
  • Counseling students’ values and attitudes towards euthanasia
The Polls Are Open! Vote in AMHCA’s Election

Online voting in the AMHCA 2014 election is now under way. By now all members eligible to vote should have received an email from “AMHCA Election” with a link to their personalized ballot. The three open postions on AMHCA's board of directors are president-elect, Midwest Region director, and Western Region director

Personalized ballots include only those races in which you are eligible to vote. All eligible members may cast 

a vote for the president-elect position. Only voters who live in the Midwest Region and Western Region may vote in those races.

In order for your vote to be counted,your ballot must be completed and submitted by 8 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Questions? Please contact AMHCA Member Services at or 800–326–2642.