Sustaining and Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Services

HAP supports new health care delivery models and additional flexibility in the delivery system to better address patients' behavioral health care needs.


HAP is working to:

  • Expand the role of advanced practice professionals in the behavioral health care setting to improve access to needed services
  • Address hospital challenges related to identifying treatment resources beyond the emergency department
  • Advance the use of telehealth and insurer reimbursement for telehealth to increase access to behavioral health services
  • Modernize policy to improve access to information to improve patient care
  • Secure additional state and federal funds to initiate new behavioral health care models in the state 

Behavioral Health Study

HAP initiated House Resolution 268, which passed the General Assembly during the spring. The resolution directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the effects of behavioral health holds on emergency departments and patients. A commission advisory committee, which includes representatives from an urban, suburban, and rural hospital, will help direct the study.

The Joint State Government Commission will issue the report with its findings and recommendations to the House Health and Human Services Committees, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee by June 2020. 


HAP supports Senate Bill 857, Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), which prevents insurers from prohibiting reimbursement for a service solely because it was provided via telemedicine.

Regulatory Activity

State:  During July, the Pennsylvania Regulatory Review Commission approved new regulations for outpatient psychiatric services and psychiatric outpatient clinics.

The new regulations amend 55 PA Code Chapter 1153 and 55 Pa Code Chapter 5200—updating decades old policy and aligning state requirements with federal requirements set forth in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The regulations also codify requirements for delivery of Mobile Mental Health Treatment services as well as regulations for supervision in accordance with section 4 of the Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act.

Federal:  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a final rule to update the payment rates for inpatient psychiatric facilities for fiscal year 2020:

  • Net payment increase of 1.5 percent, or $65 million, compared to FY 2019. The total increase includes a market-basket update and rebasing offset by statutorily required reductions and a reduction related to the outlier threshold
  • Addition of one quality measure on medication continuation following discharge for FY 2021 payment determination.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a proposed rule during August to amend sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that define restrictions on how federally assisted alcohol or drug abuse programs may use and share patient information. HAP supports efforts by the American Hospital Association to encourage Congress to pursue legislation to modernize substance use disorder information sharing to support better care coordination and integration.

HAP Opioid Learning Action Network

The HAP Opioid Learning Action Network (LAN), funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is a two-year project that will support Pennsylvania’s hospitals in working collectively to identify, create, and disseminate promising practices to measurably increase the number of patients entering evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorders (OUD) and reduce overdose deaths.

For additional information about behavioral health, go to HAP’s Resource Center.

HAP Contacts

For more information, contact Jennifer Jordan, vice president, regulatory advocacy. For media inquiries, contact Rachel Moore, director, media relations.

HAP News

July 06, 2020

American Hospital, Medical, Nurses Associations Pen Open Letter to Urge COVID-19 Prevention

Today, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association released a joint open letter to the American public, urging them to continue their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The letter emphasizes the importance wearing face masks, keeping safe distances, and frequently washing hands.

July 02, 2020

Supreme Court Rules to Keep COVID-19 Disaster Declaration in Place

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of Governor Wolf in his case to determine whether the state General Assembly could overturn the COVID-19 Disaster Declaration. In a 5-to-2 ruling, the court held that a concurrent resolution passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate to terminate the declaration must be presented to the governor for his veto or signature per the state’s Constitution.

July 02, 2020

Wolf Administration Expands Masking Order

Yesterday, the Wolf Administration announced that it has expanded its order requiring universal masking in all public spaces. Under the expansion, Pennsylvanians now are required to wear a mask any time they are inside a public place, or are outdoors and unable to practice safe physical distancing.