DMH Issues Final Rule on Licensing, Operations

The Department of Mental Health has amended the regulations relating to its oversight of the licensing and operation of mental health facilities. Most of the changes relate to the implementation of Chapter 208 of the Acts of 2018 – last year’s substance use disorder law.
The final regulation incorporates feedback that MHA and the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems (MABHS) provided, requiring DMH, when determining licensing, to consider the health needs of persons in the commonwealth with a mental illness, including underserved populations and persons with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder, as outlined in Chapter 208.
Among other guidelines, DMH’s regulations require all licensed DMH facilities to provide services to commonwealth residents with public health insurance on a non-discriminatory basis, and require the reporting of the facility’s payer mix to DMH on a quarterly basis. DMH will accept payer mix reports from existing public data sources, including those from the Center for Health Information and Analysis. The reporting reflects a process that MHA and MABHS had proposed.

Other regulations relate to transport of patients, the designation of comfort or sensory places in a facility, and allowing the greater use of telemedicine to meet the requirements of a patient’s timely interaction with a clinician.