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  • OAHP

Better data needed for behavioral health policy

Haley Faulkenberry, Oklahoma Association of Health Plans executive director

Oklahoma’s elected leaders have invested an additional $1 billion toward behavioral health services over the past four years to address our state’s bottom rankings. The determination exists with our current elected leaders to turn the tide on mental wellness.

Unfortunately, the Tulsa World column from Editorials Editor Ginnie Graham on Feb. 20 was once again doom and gloom.

The column endorsed Healthy Minds Policy Initiative’s policies to address behavioral health access by increasing red tape and costs for health care.

Graham failed to highlight that HMPI’s data to support its policy agenda did not assess 78% of health plans’ provider directories. Furthermore, it neglected to source HMPI’s praise in 2021 for Oklahoma as a “national example in delivering behavioral telehealth services,” citing efforts by both public and private health plans.

Oklahoma’s health plans know early intervention for mental health impacts the whole person. It’s why all Oklahoma health plans have guided practices for authorizing out-of-network options for behavioral health needs when no in-network provider is available, at no change in cost to the consumer. This industry-standard practice should be codified into state law.

We urge policymakers to pump the brakes on punitive proposals this year and consider the modernized Health Information Exchange for real-time, robust data to guide decisions for public health policy.

We must continue to address mental health and do it expeditiously with sustainable resources and thoughtfully with good data.


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