Telecare Opposes Graham-Cassidy Repeal Bill

As you may have heard, the latest effort to repeal the ACA is currently very close to being voted on. Telecare opposes this bill, as it would eliminate expanded Medicaid funding for so many of the people we serve, sabotaging state initiatives to address the overdose crisis and fight substance use disorders. Cutting or capping Medicaid and ending the Medicaid expansion will be devastating to those who can’t afford health care in the private market. It would allow states to eliminate requirements that private insurance cover substance use disorders and mental illness. It would also allow them to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing illnesses. This bill would disproportionally affect the people we serve in so many ways.

Telecare is sending letters to Senators in the states we serve. If you feel moved to do so, please contact your senator right away. Please call your Senator urging them to vote NO on the bill. You can call 888-852-0653, which allows you to contact your member of Congress.

The National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors also offers these facts for crafting your own message. 


1.     MASSIVE STATE BY STATE FUNDING CUTS. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report showing in 2027, every state in the nation would see federal funding cuts under Graham-Cassidy, totaling nearly $300 billion.

2.             NO FULL CBO SCORE. The Congressional Budget Office announced it would not be able to produce a complete analysis on Graham-Cassidy that includes the impact on deficits, how many will lose coverage or the increase in premiums by September 30.  Senator Bill Cassidy admitted “I just don’t care about the coverage numbers.”

3.             PRE-EXISTING CONDITION PREMIUM HIKES. The Center for American Progress released a report showing how much more people with pre-existing conditions would pay each year under Graham-Cassidy. For example, an individual with asthma would face a premium surcharge of $4,340. The surcharge for pregnancy would be $17,320 and $142,650 more for patients with metastatic cancer.

4.             WORSE THAN BEFORE. Fitch Rating Agency found that this bill was “more disruptive for most states than prior Republican efforts.” The Washington Post found this bill is worse than previous health care repeal bills, writing “"The latest Obamacare overhaul bill gaining steam on Capitol Hill slashes health-care spending more deeply and would likely cover fewer people than a July bill that failed precisely because of such concerns."

5.             MORE UNINSURED VETS. Rand Corp study showing Republican repeal efforts would increase the number of uninsured veterans. The report showed that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion had increased coverage for low-income veterans who lived further from VA facilities. The report found that the ACA was responsible for reducing the uninsured rate of veterans by about one-third, from 9.1% to 5.8%, in 2015.

6.             MORE UNINSURED CHILDREN. The Center for American Progress released an analysis showing that children are at immediate risk of losing coverage in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah with CHIP funding running out quickly.

7.             KEY STAKEHOLDERS OPPOSE. The AARP, AMA, six leading physician groups, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and 15 more high-profile patient groups and Children’s Hospital Association are all unified in opposing the Republican repeal bill.

8.             GOP GOVERNORS OPPOSE. Republican Governors from Alaska, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have come out against the plan.

9.             FAILS THE MCCAIN TEST. The NYT's David Leonhardt's column, "John McCain Faces a New Test of His Principles."

10.          RAND PAUL IS A 'NO.' GOP Senator Rand Paul opposes Graham-Cassidy, writing in an op-ed, “In all ways, this bill is also ObamaCare Lite. In no way is it repeal the way we promised. I will oppose this bill as I did the other fake repeal bills, and I urge those who want repeal to do so, as well.“

11.          INCLUDES THE AGE TAX. This repeal bill still lets insurance companies charge up to 5 times more for people over 50, what AARP has dubbed an “Age Tax”.

12.          NO GUARANTEE IN THE HOUSE. Because this repeal bill is worse than previous ones, the Washington Post reports "Would the House pass Graham-Cassidy? It's not a slam dunk."


Clark County E&T’s Quote Board


Staff at the Clark County Evaluation & Treatment (E&T) center in Vancouver, WA, spent the last month or so writing their favorite quotes on a bulletin board in the program designed by one of their team members in Social Services, Shawn Wolf.

Shawn’s inspiration for the bulletin board was the Disney movie UP. Staff members were invited to add their own favorite quotes to the balloons to encourage, inspire, and to make others laugh. (”Why are iPhone chargers not called apple juice?”)

“UP is about enjoying life every day,” said Shawn. “Life’s not only about the big monumental moments. It is equally important to say YES to the small miracles that surround you.”

Orange County STEPS Explores Culture

Members at Telecare's Orange County STEPS program in Santa Ana, CA, requested a new group regarding cultural exploration and awareness. 

To help create the group, STEPS staff asked members to find cultures they are interested in learning about, and choose one to explore each month. With each culture, staff will share with members its history, traditions, arts and crafts, and invite members to share their own stories if they identify with the chosen culture. 

This week, staff and members created worry dolls, which originated in Latin America. The members enjoyed learning about the tradition as well as how they could be used as a coping skill.

Villa Fairmont Staff Appreciation Event

On June 17, staff from our Villa Fairmont Mental Health Rehabilitation Center (MHRC), located in San Leandro, CA, went out to the ballgame to see the A’s beat the Yankees! Thanks to all the staff at Villa for your hard work and your deep commitment to the care of our clients!

La Paz Celebrates Nurses Week

This month, Telecare's La Paz Geropsychiatric Center in Long Beach, CA, recognized their magnificent nursing staff during National Nurses Week.

The festivities began with a continental breakfast on Monday; delicious rootbeer floats were served on Tuesday; a lunch treat from Subway was offered on Wednesday; the rehabilitation department recognized their nursing peers by creating an attractive and tasty candy bar on Thursday; and on Friday, the last day of the event, all nurses were treated to an Italian dinner.

A raffle was held and each member of the nursing department received a lunch tote bag and an engraved pen.

La Paz appreciates its nurses who work hard every day and show extraordinary caring and compassion towards the residents.

CATC’s First RCCS Rehab Lab

This month, Rehabilitation Therapist Myrna Alylesworth hosted Multnomah CATC’s first RCCS Rehab Lab.

The quarterly workgroup will focus on supporting the CATC team in increasing their use of the RCCS materials into their already strong group schedule. The first item on the agenda was strengthening community meeting and evening wrap-up groups. Staff were very enthusiastic about the new program and contributed a lot of new ideas.

The hope is that staff will become RCCS masters and will be able to incorporate the material that Telecare produces for staff into more creative groups that will help residents grow. 

Hope House Has a New Employee of The Month Program

Telecare’s Hope House in Martinez, California, developed an Employee of the Month program to recognize employees that stand out to their peers. Each Month, all staff vote for an employee they feel has performed exceptional work supporting our residents and their teammates. The employee of the month gets their picture posted, receives a certificate of appreciation, gets their own parking spot, and gets taken out to lunch as a way of thanking them for their exceptional dedication and hard work.

For the month of May, our Employee of the Month was Ebidoere Crump, Residential Counselor. She always has a can-do, positive attitude, always promotes recovery with our residents, and is always fun to be around. She is a professional chef and all our residents look forward to her meals. Our employee of the month for June is Kelsey Rogers, Licensed Psychiatric Technician (LPT). She works hard to ensure our medication room is well-organized and that our residents work toward their recovery. She also has a can-do attitude.

Thank you for all that you do at Hope House!

Recovery Center at Sarpy Celebrates 11 Years

The Recovery Center at Sarpy in Nebraska celebrated their 11-year program anniversary this week with a staff and resident BBQ to mark the actual day of opening on June 5. Residents gave a special presentation and poster to the Recovery Specialists, thanking them for all that they do and gave them a week of appreciation as well. 

Staff grilled lunch and served the residents in honor of their hard work in recovery. Residents spoke about their appreciation for the program and took it upon themselves to thank and honor the staff. Everyone had a great day spending time celebrating together and recognizing the work of the program. 

Pierce County E&T Attends Washington NAMIWalk

Staff and friends of Telecare’s Pierce County E&T in Lakewood, Washington, came together to attend the Washington NAMIWalk on June 3.

NAMIWalks are 5k events raising awareness and funds for NAMI organizations across the country. Last year, NAMIWalks collectively raised nearly $11 million, and so far this year they’ve raised more than $6 million! You can find a NAMIWalk near you to participate in by clicking this link.

A big thank you to the staff & others who participated in such a wonderful event!

Spreading the Word That Each Mind Matters in Modesto


On May 15, staff from Telecare’s TRAC/TMRS/SHOP programs set up a booth at the Amgen Tour of California. The Tour de France-style cycling road race came through Modesto, where program staff greeted community members and informed them about the services they provide within the community. During the event, staff connected with other community resources, linked up with potential members, and even participated in the parade.  

Telecare Riverside PHF & CSU Celebrate Hospital and Nurses Week

Telecare's Riverside County Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) and Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) celebrated Hospital and Nurses week May 7-13.

The support staff brought in meals for all three shifts, conducted a scavenger hunt, and had an old-fashioned ice cream social.

"Everyone had a blast and our entire facility came together to Celebrate our Team and the Telecare Mission," said Steven Oppenheimer, Administrator at Riverside PFH.

Lagos Ribbon Cutting Ceremony & Open House

On May 3, Telecare and Riverside University Health System hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for a brand-new Mental Health Crisis Center in Riverside County where Telecare will operate the Telecare Lagos Crisis Residential Treatment (CRT) Facility when it opens in July 2017.

"The ribbon cutting ceremony was a wonderful celebration where we had the opportunity to connect with various partners and department heads from Riverside County," said Beatrice Serafin, Regional Director of Operations for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. "We hosted an information booth, met our neighbors at the site, and gave facility tours to individuals attending the celebration. It was a great way to introduce everyone to the Lagos Program."

The Lagos CRT will be a 16-bed, unlocked, voluntary psychiatric recovery program with the goal of stabilizing individuals experiencing a mental health crisis by providing intensive and structured psychosocial recovery services in a non-institutional, welcoming, safe, and respectful environment.

A powerful and unique component of the Lagos program will be the various Peer Support Provider positions, which will comprise 50% of the overall staffing pattern. "Peer Support Providers are uniquely qualified to inspire and engage residents to reclaim their personal power and achieve their recovery goals," said Jennifer Hinkel, Vice President of Development. "This program will include several positions from our Peer Support Provider career ladder, including Peer Support Specialists, Family Peer Support Specialists, Peer Recovery Educators, as well as a Peer Team Leader who will provide support to all the Peer Provider positions."

LAOA Participated in the Campaign to Change Direction

Telecare LA Older Adult programs participated in the global Campaign to Change Direction in which organizations around the world held training's and workshops to spread awareness on the Five Signs of emotional suffering and ways to help a person in need.  One goal is to change the cultural narrative of how people with mental health challenges are viewed. Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama, and Prince Harry of England are big names lending their time and energy to this worthy campaign.    

LAOA invited building tenants and businesses to a conversation on mental wellness and recognizing the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering. Door prizes/raffles, food, and drink were provided to create a welcoming and safe environment to begin a dialogue on wellness and begin demystifying mental health. 

 The 5 signs are:

  1. Personality Change
  2. Agitation or mood swings
  3. Withdrawn/Isolated
  4. Poor Self Care
  5. Feeling hopeless

Ways to combat and help those in need:

  1. Take Care- Eat well, Sleep well and exercise
  2. Check-In- With family, friends, counselors
  3. Engage- With others, create healthy relationships
  4. Relax- Be active, meditate, garden, dance, love
  5. Know– Know the 5 Signs of emotional suffering

TRAC/TMRS/SHOP Programs Collaborate with Modesto Police Department

Telecare’s Modesto outreach programs have teamed up with the four of the Modesto Police Department's (MPD) newest officers that have been hired on to work with the homeless population in the community.

“If the officers suspect that the person might have a mental health diagnosis or substance use disorder, they will phone our outreach staff, Randy Limburg and Maria Madrigal, to assist with linking them to needed services,” said Dawn Lewis, Program Business Director at the Telecare Recovery Access Center (TRAC).

“In the five weeks that this MPD team has been in place, at least four people have been successfully linked,” she said.

Telecare has multiple outreach programs in the Stanislaus County area that provide a wide array of community outreach and linkage services

  • Westside Stanislaus Homeless Outreach Program (SHOP)
    • Outreach and Engagement 1 focuses on the area’s homeless population
    • Outreach and Engagement 3 team provides psycho-education and mental health services with the intent of reducing stigma in mental health
    • Latino Access specifically provides outreach and psycho-education on mental health to the county’s Latino population
  • TRAC provides a continuity of care and a menu of outpatient treatment options
    • Partnership TRAC serves clients who have previously been under served and/or uninsured
    • Fast TRAC serves clients who are under served, many of whom are un-benefited
    • Wellness TRAC serves clients that are low-risk and can benefit from low-intensity services, primarily medication services and group offerings
    • Josie’s TRAC serves Transitional Age Youth (TAY) 18-25
  • Telecare Modesto Recovery Services (TMRS) serves primarily clients residing in Modesto with a history psychiatric hospitalization

STEPS Orange County Spruces Up Santa Ana

Three staff members and 17 members from the STEPS Orange County participated in the Love Santa Ana Initiative Day of Community Beautification event on Saturday, April 8.

The volunteer event aimed to improve and transform the Casa Bonita and Bella Vista neighborhoods through service activities such as painting fences, murals, gardening, planting trees, removing graffiti, and picking up trash.

One STEPS member enjoyed the painting so much, he said he would like to look for a job as a house painter now that he knows how much he likes it, while another member said she felt a sense of importance from helping others. Staff member Nhi Thai was even interviewed by a local TV news channel about the day's events.

Once the volunteering was done, the group got to partake in resource fair activities, which included music, games, and other fun festivities.

Great work, team STEPS Orange County!

Nursing Skills Fair at La Casa

This year La Casa’s nursing department participated in a Nursing Skills Fair as an alternative method for meeting difficult training requirements. With a St Patrick’s Day theme, participants enjoyed fun activities with giveaways and games. The event took about two hours to complete, however, it was offered from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. so all shifts could participate.

“The wonderful part about this event is that the nursing staff could ask questions on a one-to-one basis about very important skills they use on a daily basis,” said Director of Staff Development, Nona Hall-Sandoval.

Although music and food added to the ambiance, the event was not all fun and games. “We were asked questions and asked to demonstrate our skills in order to test our level of competency in areas like Pro-Act, head to toe assessment, and vital signs. Some of it was challenging!” remembers Mali So, Nurse Supervisor.

In order to have qualified individuals as trainers, registered nurse house supervisors, the Director of Staff Development, the Director of Facilities, a ward clerk, a 17-year rehabilitation department veteran, and a Mental Health Worker II were used as content experts. Cerritos College Nursing students also helped out with each table including the registration table.

“Our favorite activity was the diversity table where we got to make beaded necklaces that represented the diversity of our lives. It was eye opening that our life is actually very diverse,” said Danette Calloway and Brandy Rerucha.

More than 100 employees successfully completed the fair. “This event could not have happened without the teamwork and cooperation of all departments, leadership, and staff. It was a true success,” said Nona. This is the second-annual Nursing Skills Fair and La Casa is excited to make this an annual tradition.

Riverside County PHF & CSU Attend Suicide Prevention Walk

On April 1, staff from Telecare’s Riverside County Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) and Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) attended the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk in Palm Desert, CA.

The Out of the Darkness Walk honors those who have been lost to suicide, and raises suicide awareness and prevention. The event this year included a resource fair, a remembrance tent for survivors of suicide loss, and a “messages of hope” area for survivors and supports to share kind words and create a community of caring.

The colors that the staff wore paid tribute to a personal struggle, loss, or awareness: 

  • Blue for suicide prevention support
  • Purple for loss of a loved one or relative
  • Green for personal attempt

It was a great event in which the Telecare staff was participated with pride.

Stults House Decorates their Activity Room

Telecare’s Stults House program in Portland, Oregon recently spiffed up their activity room by adding a beautiful, completely original, scenic mural painted by staff and residents. They started with an image of the Columbia Gorge as a guide, with each participant adding their personal creativity.

When asked what would be a good title for the mural, residents suggested calling it Sunrise, The River, or Coming Together to Paint.

“We all took part in something great. It increased our bond for something special,” said one resident.

Another resident said watching the paint and looking at it after was their favorite part, while another’s was painting the sunrise.

The mural is on a wall in the art and activity room of the five-bed residential program, where Recovery Specialist Dani Dierking regularly facilitates art therapy groups.

Art therapy is a powerful vehicle for communication for those with mental illness. It can allow for residents to develop greater insight into themselves, their lives, and their recovery,” said Dani. “It can be used to help residents learn to self-regulate and to organize their thoughts. It also is an excellent way to help residents learn the social skills to support one another through creating art, which was exemplified in this mural project.”

Overall, it was a fantastic effort by all and an awesome example of Telecare’s RCCS and the recovery model in action.

A big thank you to all the staff and residents that created such beautiful imagery for their program, as well as Dani for submitting the story!