What Should I Do Now? Blog by Deb Krause, Action Group Vice President

What Should I Do Now? Blog by Deb Krause, Action Group Vice President

“Given the unsettling fact that death rates are increasing in areas like suicide and substance use at a time when more money is being spent than ever before on behavioral health, employers can and must demand data, enabling them to create a detailed, specific plan to address deficiencies.”

 Henry Harbin, M.D., Psychiatrist, Health Care Consultant, Special Advisor to The Action Group’s Mental Health Guiding Coalition

Each year, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, I authored a three-part blog series encouraging employers to have meaningful conversations with their health plan to share the importance of mental health care and outcomes to the employer, understand what the health plan is doing to ensure mental health parity, access to care, and reimbursement for the organization’s employees, and collaborate to establish a plan, together, to set clear goals, measure progress, and have regular conversations to ensure that for the organization’s employees:

Everyone who needs care can seek it, without discrimination.

Individuals have access to high-quality, affordable, integrated, and measurement-based care, when and where they need it.

Providers are paid fairly, and payments include incentives and reward providers for high-value care.

So that, patients with mental health conditions get better.

I also shared, and encouraged employers to use, the Model Data Request Form (MDRF) to gather valuable and actionable data based on their employees’ experience when seeking to access mental health/substance use disorder treatment. Recently, a Minnesota employer who is part of our Mental Health Guiding Coalition asked for additional help and suggested that I write a follow-up blog.

“We sent the MDRF to our health plan. The response showed serious need for improvement. When I asked for an improvement plan, what I received was woefully inadequate—lacking meaningful action steps, measures of progress, and specific timing. What should I do now?” ~ Action Group Employer

Receiving an inadequate improvement plan could signal that the health plan didn’t take the request seriously, or perhaps they failed to involve the right people in preparing the plan. Maybe, they didn’t invest enough time in creating a thoughtful plan, or maybe they don’t know what needs to be done. Whatever the reason, it is important for employers to be vigilant. Here is a template plan for employers to use with their health plan to document, discuss, implement actions, and monitor progress in closing the gaps in mental health care identified in their data.

As with any performance improvement plan, it is intended to be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. It aligns with the eValue8™ Mental Health Deep Dive for focus and consistency, and it is intended to be a living document. Quite simply: Make a plan, then work the plan.

This is not a theoretical conversation. We are talking about patients who need mental health care, and it is essential that employers and their health plans work together to provide access to high-value care. It’s a moral imperative, and it is also the law.


Deb Krause is Vice President of the Minnesota Health Action Group.