Behavioral Health Advisory Council

Advisory Council Purpose Statement

  1. Gain Input from stakeholders (consumers, providers, advocates, state agencies, etc.) to OHCA. We will provide information to OHCA to facilitate bi-lateral communication on issues which are an integral part of the stakeholder situation.
  2. Educate OHCA about the needs of consumers. Provide education regarding consumer needs to OHCA to enable them to better serve consumer needs on a continuing basis. Continue to encourage consumer participation in the meetings.
  3. Bring identified problem policy & systems issues to meetings for discussion and resolution. Discuss policy & systems issues with members of Advisory Council to gather other viewpoints, gain insight into other agencies policies, and recommend policy & systems changes as necessary to resolve issues.
  4. Advocate and educate other stakeholders regarding OHCA and consumer needs. Provide consumers with the opportunity to voice their needs and provide information so they can speak about their benefits.

OHCA Behavioral Health Advisory Council Mission Statement

The OHCA Behavioral Health Advisory Council was founded to facilitate communication between OHCA consumers, providers and other stakeholders. The mission of the Council is to provide input to the OHCA and designated agents regarding behavioral health care within Oklahoma’s Medicaid programs. The Council’s priority is to foster communication, understanding and participation from the stakeholders and to recommend policy changes to OHCA leadership. In order to facilitate participation and recommendations, the OHCA staff and designated agents will provide education, and information regarding the current Oklahoma Medicaid program, federal policy and other issues relevant to quality service improvement.

OHCA Behavioral Health Advisory Council History

The SoonerCare Plus Behavioral Advisory Council was established as a result of feedback received during the University of South Florida’s Health Care Reform Tracking Project interviews. The reports from these interviews showed that there was a significant amount of misinformation within the consumer and advocacy groups, as well as other stakeholders, regarding their behavioral health benefits and Health Plan system processes. It was clear that there needed to be a forum in which accurate information and dialogue regarding some of these misconceptions could be discussed and resolved. 

Consumers receiving behavioral health services felt isolated from assistance, with only a 1-800 help line to turn to when they had concerns about their treatment or health plan.  In an effort to improve this system and BH services being provided, OHCA behavioral health staff and the SoonerCare Plus Health Plans worked together in a cooperative and collaborative manner to develop the Advisory Council.

Since 1999, the SoonerCare Plus Behavioral Health Advisory Council has been bringing consumers together with their primary resources for answers and help: the health plans and state agency representatives. After a few years, Consumer Focus groups were begun in order to get out in the consumer field and get direct input from consumers, family members, and advocates.  Because so many of these focus group meetings also focused on Fee-For-Service/SoonerCare Choice benefits, in 2003, the Advisory Council expanded to include FFS and SoonerCare Choice. Thus the council became, the OHCA Behavioral Health Advisory Council.

The Council provides an avenue to bring all possible resources for behavioral health clients together. In addition to specific consumer problems, council meetings cover everything from HIPAA and legislative updates to current issues at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and what benefit changes consumers may be facing in the coming months. The meetings also cover different program options, such as the Program for Assertive Community Treatment, a highly successful treatment option that bombards a small number of clients with a myriad of resources and help. All the SoonerCare Plus health plans participated in the quarterly meetings, including CommunityCare, Heartland, Prime Advantage and UniCare until the end of the Plus program. Representatives from state agencies such as the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, Department of Human Services, Oklahoma Juvenile Authority, and the Disability Law Center, who serve the same consumer population, also attend. “For consumers, this is one of the places where they get heard and something is done”. For OHCA and the health plans, they gain immediate feedback of possible problems when consumers are going through a crisis. We get consumer satisfaction information from CAHPS surveys, but this information is not timely enough to assist consumers when they are in crisis or in need of immediate services. Consumer input is crucial. A representative from a state/private agency and a consumer co-chair the meetings.