Mental health issues being faced in the state of Louisiana will be the focus at the fifth quarterly meeting of the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel.  The meeting will take place on Thursday, June 30 at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel, 555 Canal St., New Orleans.  Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with the meeting starting at 8 a.m.

The mental health discussion will be introduced by Sen. Sharon Weston Broome and Rep. Monica Walker.  LDH Deputy Secretary Raymond Jetson and LDH Office of Mental Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Cheryl Bowers-Stephens will give a presentation on the state of mental health in Louisiana. 

Bill Emmet and David Miller of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors will speak on the national mental health agenda and the examples of other states’ successes.  Reginald Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, will discuss the reason for the increase in prisoners with mental illness and his experience overseeing the reform measures that are improving mental health care within Ohio’s prison system.  He will also address the need for cross-departmental collaboration in reforming mental health care in the state of Louisiana.

LDH Medicaid Medical Director Dr. Roxane Townsend will provide an update on the HIFA waiver.  The original waiver is pending approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  If approved, the amendment to the waiver will allow local government entities to provide the state with dollars that can be used to obtain federal matching funds. Local communities will be able to use the federal dollars to expand access to health care services and health insurance coverage to the uninsured.

Alice Burton of Academy Health will give an update on state activities for providing care to the uninsured.  Len Nichols of the New America Foundation will discuss coverage options with a focus on individual mandates.

This meeting is a working meeting of the panel, but is free and open to the public.  Pre-registration is not required.  Anyone who attends the meeting will have an opportunity to provide written comments and/or questions on the issue of mental health to the panel for consideration.

All details of the meeting and a copy of the minutes will be posted on the Health Care Reform section of the Department of Health Web site upon completion.  For more information, please visit that site at