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Medicaid Managed Care and Criminal Justice System Forum Held in Miami-Dade 

Melanie Brown-Woofter, AHCA Director of Community Relations The Miami-Dade Chapter of Florida Partners in Crisis in cooperation with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA)and managed care providers from Region 11 hosted a forum Wednesday to discuss how the mandatory enrollment of Medicaid patients into managed care plans may impact those individuals in the criminal justice system.

Under the program, known as Managed Medical Assistance or MMA, as of August 1 nearly all of Florida’s 3 million Medicaid recipients must be enrolled in a managed care plan. The MMA provides medical, dental and behavioral health care services to eligible recipients and includes community substance abuse treatment services and the statewide inpatient psychiatric program which were previously covered only under Medicaid fee-for-service programs.

Attendees at the forum included local mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, representatives of the 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, the state attorney and public defender, Department of Children and Families, AHCA, numerous local outreach organizations as well as Circuit Judge Jeri Cohen, County Judge Judy Rubenstein and former Partners in Crisis Chairman Judge Steven Leifman.

In his opening remarks Judge Leifman thanked participants for their willingness to be pro-active in working together through the transition phase and stressed the need for open and cooperative communication between managed care organizations, providers and the courts in order to “provide good, reliable, timely treatment to a very fragile population.” He emphasized that treatment delays for individuals with serious mental illnesses who are in crisis can end tragically unless the system is able to provide immediate and sustained care.

AHCA Director of Community Relations Melanie Brown-Woofter provided an overview of MMA which included information on the standard and specialty plans available in Miami-Dade and the number of enrollees for each plan. Standard plans will serve the bulk of Medicaid recipients while Specialty Plans will provide care to populations with a distinct diagnosis or chronic condition.

Statewide, AHCA has contracted with six Specialty Plans including Magellan Complete Care for recipients diagnosed with or in treatment for a serious mental illness; Positive Healthcare of Florida HIV/AIDS Specialty Plan; Clear Health Alliance HIV/AIDS Specialty Plan; Sunshine Health Child Welfare Specialty Health Plan; Children’s Medical Services Network Plan; and Freedom Health Chronic Conditions/Duals Specialty Plan.

Qualified individuals are not required to enroll in Specialty Plans but the Specialty Plans must cover the same health care services as the Standard MMA plans.

Brown-Woofter stressed the Agency’s improved oversight ability under the new program including a managed care plan report card under development and an online complaint form. Submissions via the complaint form will receive a call from Agency staff within 24 hours.

During the final hour of the forum, representatives of managed care plans fielded questions from the audience. Judge Leifman wrapped up the event with a call to action for a follow-up forum in the coming months to troubleshoot any issues and help maintain open communications. All of the information mentioned here and provided during the forum can be found on the AHCA website.


Secretary Crews: “Everything we do is moving us down a path toward safer facilities and a safer Florida”

August 20, 2104

MIAMI, Fla. – Today, Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews announced system-wide reforms in four areas. Secretary Crews said, ―Stories report we have fallen short in specific instances with regard to facility leadership, safety, security, training and services for mentally ill inmates. We’re fixing the problems that have been identified and as we identify new issues, we will fix those too. Our Department should be held to the highest standards, and I have zero tolerance for anything less.

“We need to anticipate problems and implement a system-wide approach to correct issues before they become widespread. We must act with a sense of urgency. There is no silver bullet, but everything we do is moving us down a path toward safer facilities and a safer Florida.” Click here to read the full release from Secretary Crews.

DOC Proposed changes in mental health include:

  • Expand specialized training for correctional officers
  • Develop specialized re-entry centers for inmates who suffer from mental illness
  • Case management pilot program

 Miami Gardens Police Sgt. Timothy Adams, CIT Coordinator Habsi Kaba and Miami Police Lt. Jeff Locke recognized for his dedication to CIT.

CIT Leader to Retire

The Miami-Dade County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)/Baker Act (BA) Advisory Committee Meeting was held on August, 14, 2014. The meeting was well attended by law enforcement and community stakeholders. The agenda included items that impacted the community such as Homeless Outreach services, Court Call Pilot program for Baker Act hearings, Informational presentation regarding the Marchman Act as well as other pertinent updates. At the conclusion of the meeting, Lieutenant Jeff Locke from the Miami Police Department was presented with a plaque for his dedication to CIT and his participation as co-chair of the Advisory Committee since its inception in 2008. Jeff is looking forward to retirement beginning in November. Sergeant Timothy Adams from Miami Gardens Police Department will assume the co-chair responsibilities for the Advisory Committee. Pictured (l-r) Adams, Miami-Dade CIT Coordinator Habsi Kaba and Locke.

Thanks, Lieutenant Locke – you will be missed!

— From the Orlando Sentinel, August 18, 2014



What it’s like to live with depression

Mary Scott lives in Davenport.

One day I was fine, and the next day I was crying at dog-food commercials.

Getting out of bed, taking a shower and getting dressed were chores. One night I didn’t care if I lived or died, so I pulled out in front of a car. Thankfully, it swerved to miss me, and I realized I needed help.

I found a doctor, and he told me I was suffering from depression — a social stigma at that time. He prescribed medication. After a week, the medicine kicked in. It was Prozac, the depression medication of the ’80s. I no longer cried, but I no longer felt anything. It deadened my life. But I was able to be out and about with my secret.

After a time, I needed higher and higher doses of Prozac, until I reached the limit of its usage. At that time, other medications came on the market and then began my roller-coaster of emotion, almost frantic as I tried other depression resources.

I finally found one that met my needs, but I had mental consequences, and I began to lose myself. I left a career that I loved, made bad monetary decisions and tried to cope with my up-and-down life. I was in and out of therapy, but it didn’t help because, by this time, depression was diagnosed as a chemical imbalance within my body, which affected my brain and how it worked. I needed lifelong chemicals to correct it. Right now, I am stable but again have reached the limits of dosage. Having tried all the therapies out there, I have to cope with what is offered. I live on an edge. There are many days that I don’t leave the house and don’t care to talk to people because I’ve lost the ability to do small talk. I like to listen, but people have found that behavior to be creepy, so I stay out of group gatherings. Then Robin Williams took his own life, and it shook me to my core. With his fame and fortune, Williams could afford the best of the best, and still he no longer could face life. While I won’t take my own life, I understand why he did. It’s sad to say, but I truly envy the peace he has found.


At Florida Town Hall, Reps. Murphy and Buchanan Hear From Community Members on Urgent Need to Enact Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

Wednesday, August 19, 2014
Contact: Murphy Press, 202.225.2301

(SARASOTA, FL) – Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) appeared as a special guest today at a town hall meeting on mental healthcare hosted by Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL). More than 125 law enforcement personnel, providers, and family members came out for a discussion about the need to rebuild the country’s mental health system by enacting the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717). Murphy is the author of the bipartisan H.R. 3717, which has been described as the most comprehensive overhaul of the mental health system since the Kennedy Administration. Nationwide support for the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act has come from newspaper editors, physicians, and parents of children with mental illness.

The forum was one of six meetings and public events today focused on mental health organized by Rep. Buchanan, who is a cosponsor of H.R. 3717. At the invitation of supporters and congressional cosponsors of H.R. 3717, Murphy has been speaking on his legislation across the country this month.

During the town hall, parents of loved ones with severe schizophrenia and bipolar disorder described their personal struggles in getting an adult son or daughter into medical treatment due to convoluted legal barriers. While tears were shed, those in attendance were buoyed by the efforts of Congressmen Murphy and Buchanan to fix the broken mental health system.

“The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act will rebuild our broken system so families are reunited and loved ones with mental illness recover,” said Dr. Murphy, a clinical psychologist. “I’m honored to work with Representative Buchanan who has shown tremendous leadership and courage in helping Florida families who have a loved one in mental health crisis.”

Said Congressman Buchanan, “Mental illness is a national crisis. I am proud to join Congressman Murphy as we fight to reform a broken mental health system.”

During the town hall, Dr. Murphy explained that some individuals experiencing an acute mental crisis are not treated with the same urgent care as other patients, such as those with Alzheimer’s Disease or suffering from a stoke, who also lack insight into their medical needs. Noting that current research underscores the need to approach serious mental illness as a medical condition, Murphy said patients with a brain illness have a right to get better and deserve immediate access to care in a medical setting. “We would never deny treatment to a stroke victim or a senior with Alzheimer’s Disease simply because he or she is unable to ask for care. Yet, in cases of serious brain disorders, like schizophrenia, this cruel conundrum prevents us from acting even when we know we must because the laws say we can’t. We must change those misguided and harmful laws,” said Murphy.

The state of Florida will only guide a person with severe and chronic mental illness into treatment if they are imminently homicidal or suicidal. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act would induce Florida, and 26 other states including Pennsylvania, to adopt “need for treatment” standards, which allow magistrates to place a loved one into treatment when that individual is too sick to save himself or herself from psychiatric deterioration.