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Allegheny Health Network Psychologist among Panelists at Senate Staff Briefing In Support of Legislation to Help Patients with Mental Health, Addiction Disorders

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (PRWEB) July 21, 2014

An Allegheny Health Network psychologist is one of three behavioral health specialists invited by the American Psychological Association (APA) to participate as panelists in a Senate staff briefing sponsored by the Behavioral Health Information Technology Coalition on Tuesday, July 22 at noon in Washington, D.C.

Joseph F. Cvitkovic, PhD, Director of Behavioral Health Care at Jefferson Hospital, part of the Allegheny Health Network, is one of three panelists selected by APA to help the coalition in its push to advance legislation to give behavioral health providers/facilities access to Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments through the existing Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009.

The legislation would amend the HITECH Act to support mental and behavioral health by enabling clinical psychologists to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for integrating electronic health records into their practices. It also would extend eligibility to nationally accredited community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, clinical social workers and outpatient mental health treatment facilities and substance use facilities.

“Providing incentives will increase the likelihood that Medicare and Medicaid patients will receive effective, high-quality care from psychologists,” according to a statement by APA Practice Organization. “The inclusion of psychologists and other mental health providers will also generate savings for Medicare and Medicaid. Recognizing these providers as ‘meaningful users’ under the law will promote integration of mental health into primary care settings, reduce adverse drug-to-drug interactions, reduce duplicative tests and provide necessary information to the emergency department at hospitals to triage patients more effectively.”

Panelists at the Senate staff briefing will include:

  • Moderator: Ben McAdams, Mayor, Salt Lake County, Utah
  • Chris Wolf, CEO, ViaQuest, Columbus, Ohio
  • Joseph F. Cvitkovic, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral Health Care, Jefferson Hospital, Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Ginger Bandeen, LCSW, CHC, Quality Improvement Manager, Columbia Community Mental Health Center, St. Helens, Oregon

Behavioral health information legislation includes The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act of 2013 (S. 1517/H.R. 2957), sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ron Barber (D-AZ); and The Behavioral Health Information Coordination Act of 2013 (S. 1685), sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

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About Joseph Cvitkovic, PhD:
Dr. Cvitkovic is the Director of Behavioral Health Care for Jefferson Hospital, a part of the Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, PA. He has been a practicing psychologist for more than 35 years. He specializes in stress management, depression, anxiety, trauma, addictions and psychological aspects of health conditions such as cancer, cardiac and pain disorders. He serves as co-chair of the Jefferson Hospital Ethics Committee and provides consultation to Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield as a member of its Policy/Credentials Committee.

He is past president of the Greater Pittsburgh Psychological Association and is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Cvitkovic represented APA in Croatia and Bosnia during the war there in 1993-1996. He spent time in Croatia with the Woman and Children’s Hospital of Zagreb, the Croatian Psychological Association and the University of Zagreb to provide consultation regarding trauma care, counseling service development and research projects. He served as consultant and grant writer for the Brother’s Brother Foundation of Pittsburgh to provide funding for relief efforts for refugees related to war-time trauma, publishing several articles about his work.

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