New data from the Florida Association of Managing Entities (FAME) shows that 1 in 4 clients in Florida’s behavioral health safety net system used telehealth services in December as an important, COVID-safe way to support their mental well-being. The data, which was collected by the Managing Entities from over 300 mental health providers across the state, reflects Floridians’ continued reliance on this essential health care option as the impacts of the pandemic linger.
In light of the importance of telehealth options to deliver necessary behavioral health care services, managing entities support Senate Bill 660, sponsored by Senator Manny Diaz, and House Bill 247, co-prime sponsored by Reps. Tom Fabricio and Mike Giallombardo. Among their provisions, the bills expand the definition of telehealth to include telephonic services, which are especially important to the low-income population served by Florida’s Managing Entities.
“Throughout this pandemic, behavioral health care providers have relied on telehealth to deliver essential care to patients in need of treatment for mental health and substance use disorders,” said Natalie Kelly, CEO of the Florida Association of Managing Entities.
“The fact that nearly one-fourth of all our clients used telehealth services shows how essential that option is, and we advocate for legislative efforts to make it even more available to the public.”
Kelly noted that telephonic, or audio-only, telehealth services are more accessible to low-income, disabled, and elderly Floridians because, unlike traditional telehealth, they often don’t require specific software or an internet connection because they omit the video component.
Florida’s seven local Managing Entities work with a network of over 300 behavioral health care providers who deliver services to over 300,000 of Florida’s most vulnerable residents, including children, expectant mothers, veterans, and the chronically homeless.
Providers meet patients’ diverse needs with “wraparound services” that not only address mental health issues and substance abuse, but also assist with housing, transportation, and employment. Managing Entity community boards administer, manage, and ensure accountability of state and federal funds for behavioral health services, keeping oversight and accountability closest to the people they serve.
About the Florida Association of Managing Entities
The Florida Association of Managing Entities (FAME) is the statewide organization representing Florida’s seven Managing Entities. FAME’s mission is to advance the behavioral health recovery of individuals and their families in the state of Florida.