In late November, the office of Governor Dayton issued a press release reporting the Commission on Judicial Selection's recommendations for vacancies on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Among the four highly recommended candidates was DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. On December 4th, Governor Dayton announced his appointments of Commissioner Jesson and Tracy M. Smith to serve on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, replacing the Honorable Natalie E. Hudson, who was appointed to the state's Supreme Court; and the Honorable John P. Smith upon his retirement.
Commissioner Jesson has served in her role at DHS since 2011. During her time as commissioner she has been a champion for people with mental illnesses and has advocated strongly for building our mental health system. NAMI Minnesota thanks her for service and commitment and wishes her well in her new position. Her last day is today.
Governor Mark Dayton today announced that he has appointed Emily Johnson Piper to serve as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) beginning Monday, December 14th.
"Emily Johnson Piper will be an outstanding Human Services Commissioner," said Governor Dayton. "Emily's exceptional judgment, her integrity, and her commitment to excellence in all she does, are the foundations for her success. As General Counsel, she has been deeply involved in the most significant issues affecting the department. Thus she is well-prepared to provide the same outstanding leadership to that agency, as did her predecessor, Judge Lucinda Jesson."
"Emily Johnson Piper has an impressive track record of smart, responsible leadership," said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. "Ms. Piper is principled and compassionate, and relentless in her resolve to improve the lives of Minnesotans. She will provide the vision and strong leadership we need at the Department of Human Services."
Emily Johnson Piper currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff and General Counsel in the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. She has practiced law, in both the private and public sectors, in the areas of insurance, health care, human services, and employment. As General Counsel for the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor, and in her previous work as Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Ms. Piper worked closely with the Department of Human Services on many of the agency's high-profile legal matters and policy initiatives. Ms. Piper's knowledge of the agency, the programs it operates, and the people it serves make her uniquely qualified to take on this new and important role.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Minnesota as Commissioner of Human Services," said Piper. "The services provided by the Department of Human Services empower more than one million of our most vulnerable Minnesotans to lead healthier, fuller, more independent lives. I will do all that I can to honor that important commitment to the people of Minnesota."
About Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper
Emily Johnson Piper currently serves as General Counsel and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. In this role, Piper has represented and advised the Governor, Lt. Governor, Cabinet, and state agencies on legal matters involving the State of Minnesota. As General Counsel to the Governor and Lt. Governor, Piper has worked closely with the Department of Human Services on many of the agency's most high-profile legal matters and policy initiatives.
As the Governor's General Counsel, Piper serves as chair of the State Board of Investment Proxy Committee and the State Board of Investment Administrative Committee. The State Board of Investment manages approximately $76 billion of state pension and other assets.
Prior to joining the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor, Emily Johnson Piper served as Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff for the Minnesota Department of Commerce. In this role, Piper oversaw the Department's staff, its divisions, and its biennial budget. While at the Commerce Department, Piper worked with agency leadership in regulating, among others, Minnesota's insurance, real estate, banking, and energy industries. In addition to this work, during her tenure as Chief of Staff, Piper was charged with leading several strategic reform and legislative initiatives for the Department, including implementation of health reform, organizational realignment to better serve consumer needs, and Minnesota's response to the state's 2014 propane shortage. Prior to serving as Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff, Piper served as General Counsel for the Department.
Emily Johnson Piper began her career as an attorney with McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb Chartered in Minneapolis, working on civil litigation including healthcare and insurance law. Piper earned a Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of St. Thomas and her Juris Doctor degree from University of St. Thomas School of Law. Emily Johnson Piper lives in Golden Valley with her husband and four children. In her spare time, Piper has served on several community boards and commissions. She is also a Girl Scout Troop leader and a second grade girls basketball coach.
On November 19, the U.S. Conference Committee passed compromise framework (The Every Student Succeeds Act) to reconcile the House and Senate Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bills. The conference report passed with bipartisan support and a vote of 38-1. The U.S. House of Representatives agreed to the conference report on December 2 by another bipartisan vote of 359-64. The bill is now headed to the U.S. Senate for a vote.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177) replaces the outdated No Child Left Behind legislation. It aims to significantly strengthen and improve education for children and youth, especially students who have been historically underserved including students of color, students with disabilities and homeless youth. The act outlines a better balance between accountability and flexibility compared to the past one-size-fits-all approach. Should it pass the U.S. Senate it is reported that President Obama is prepared to sign the bill into law.
NAMI Minnesota, as a member of the Minnesota Patient Advocacy Coalition, signed on to a letter to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regarding the update to the Statewide Quality Reporting and Measurement System (SQRMS) 2016 Rule. The 2016 SQRMS rule requires the collection of race, ethnicity, language and country of origin data in efforts to support the implementation of legislation aimed at addressing health disparities in Minnesota. NAMI Minnesota supports the Coalition's recommendations to stratify the Patient Experience of Care measure, consider both composite scores and individual components when measuring health disparities and work in close partnership with a broad range of stakeholders.
Coverage for Housing-Related Activities and Services
DHS Bulletin on Youth ACT
DHS issued a bulletin to provide information for mental health and youth servicing organizations of legislation that was passed authorizing Youth Assertive Community Treatment (Youth ACT) benefits to be covered for Minnesota Health Care Program (MHCP) participants. The bulletin also contains information on the components of service and Youth ACT standards as well as rate setting methodology.
Youth ACT is an intensive rehabilitative service for youth between the ages of 16 and 20, has a diagnosis of a serious mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder and meets the criteria that indicate a need for intensive integrated intervention. Youth ACT services include: individual, family and group psychotherapy and skills training, crisis assistance, medication management and education, mental health case management, care coordination, psychoeducation for youth and their support network, clinical consultation with youth's employer or school, crisis intervention and stabilization, ongoing assessment, transition services, integrated dual disorders treatment and housing access supports. Click here to view to full bulletin.
DHS Awards Grant to Otter Tail PHR Community Collaborative
The Otter Tail Community Collaborative has been selected to receive one million in grant funding to use through March 31, 2018 for the Personal Health Record (PHR) for Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Demo project. The Collaborative includes Otter Tail County Public Health, Otter Tail County Human Services, Lake Region Health Care Hospital and clinics, LB Homes, Pioneer Care, Lakeland Mental Health Center, and Productive Alternatives.
The goal of the project is to demonstrate the benefit of a PHR for people enrolled in community-based services and supports. The Collaborative will also work with DHS and the Office of the National Coordinator's (ONC) Standards & Interoperability (S&I) Framework to develop electronic-LTSS standards for electronic data exchange. The demonstration timeline is divided into seven waves; now that the Otter Tail Community Collaborative has been selected the project is in the beginning stages of wave three. Click here for the full timeline from DHS. Click here for the Demo's monthly update archive.
In November, SAMHSA released a short report 'State Participation in the Medicaid Expansion Provision of the Affordable Care Act: Implications for Uninsured Individuals with a Behavioral Health Condition'. The report shows that under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage could be provided to 5.3 million low income people in our country who are currently uninsured and need substance use or mental health treatment. However, people are eligible only if they live in a state that participates in the Medicaid expansion program (Minnesota is one of 31 states that participate). The Medicaid expansion of the ACA was designed to increase insurance coverage for individuals with low income and limited access to employer health insurance. Mental health and substance use treatment were selected by the ACA as being among the ten essential health benefits.
About half of the 5.3 million individuals referenced in this report live in states that have opted out of participating in the Medicaid expansion program or remain undecided. This means substance use and mental health treatment expenses are likely to impose a financial barrier to those who remain uninsured. See the full report here.
NAMI Minnesota will be collecting unwrapped gifts to deliver to children and adults hospitalized in local psychiatric inpatient units over the holidays. Gifts can be dropped off at the NAMI Minnesota office weekdays until December 18th between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Gift ideas for children (ages 6 to 18) include: art materials, air dry clay, origami paper, large beads for jewelry-making, scrapbook supplies, cardstock paper, puzzles, games, bingo, Legos, hacky sack, G-rated DVDs, science and construction kits. For adults consider novels, magazines, puzzle books (crosswords, word find, Sudoku), deck of cards, writing journals, and gift cards. We appreciate your thoughtfulness!
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Updates from NAMI Minnesota
NAMI Minnesota holds legislative trainings throughout the year. This is an opportunity to learn more about the legislative process and how to contact your legislators. Our next training is Saturday, January 23 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the NAMI Minnesota office. NAMI's legislative trainings are free, but space is limited so please click here to register or email or call Lynn Sando at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-645-2948 ext. 107 for more information.
NAMI Legislative Committee Meetings are generally held the second Tuesday of every month. Our next committee meeting is Tuesday, December 12th at 6:00 PM at the NAMI Minnesota office. For more information or if you would like to attend email or call Lynn Sando at email@example.com or 651-645-2948 ext. 107.
Every year NAMI Minnesota organizes a series of house parties to give local communities the opportunity to meet with their state legislators and discuss mental health matters. We are still looking for more people to host house parties with their legislators. These events are great way to connect with elected officials and help educate them about the importance of mental health services. Your stories and experiences can have a direct impact on the future of Minnesota's mental health system and are invaluable to our efforts to create positive change. If you are interested in hosting one in your area, contact Lynn Sando at 651-645-2948 x107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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