To support its members and help break the stigma around mental health in coordination with Mental Health Awareness Month, Regence Health Plans have announced a series of investments, including:
- Hiring a new senior medical director of behavioral health
- Adding more than 1,000 additional behavioral health providers across its footprint of Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington
- Continuing an $11.5 million multi-year philanthropic initiative through its corporate parent to increase access, improve quality of care and reduce stigma
New senior medical director of behavioral health
Dr. Mike Franz is joining the health plan as senior medical director of behavioral health. In this role, he will collaborate with providers to enhance the quality of care and access to innovative behavioral health offerings for Regence members across its four-state footprint.
“His deep knowledge and expertise in integrated behavioral health care delivery and value-based care make Dr. Franz the right choice for our members,” said Chris Blanton, Regence’s senior vice president of Commercial and Ancillary Markets and interim head of Health Care Services. “He is passionate about helping people get the best care when and where they need it most, which aligns with our mission to make behavioral health care more accessible in our communities.”
Before joining Regence, Franz served as medical director of behavioral health for PacificSource Health Plans. He also is a founding partner of Cartesian Solutions LLC, a medical management consulting company that helps integrate behavioral health services in medical settings, and has over 20 years of experience in health care leadership, academic advisory and consultant roles, and clinical practice.
“I am passionate about helping people live their healthiest lives and excited to expand integrated and specialty behavioral health care access for our members,” Franz said. “I look forward to collaborating with providers to bring our members access to the highest-quality behavioral health services.”
Easing access to care and meeting the unique needs of members
Recognizing the increased demand for high-quality mental health care, Regence has added more than 1,000 behavioral health providers to its network so far in 2022, including:
- 470+ providers in Oregon
- 470+ providers in Washington
- 320+ providers in Utah
- 240+ providers in Idaho
As part of its provider search tool that connects members to available care resources, Regence has updated approximately 50% of primary care and behavioral health providers in its network with demographic information to help better serve the unique needs of a diverse membership. New data elements include race, ethnicity, language and gender designations for a more personalized and equitable experience. Regence aims to increase this information for up to 80% of its providers by end of year.
In addition, Regence works to help connect members to the right care and benefit offerings by training a cohort of customer service professionals in Mental Health First Aid, a globally recognized certification. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com, or call the number of the back of their member ID card to help find the most appropriate behavioral health resources.
Investing in local communities
Regence and its parent company are in the midst of a multi-year, $11.5 million community initiative to increase access, improve quality of care and reduce the stigma of mental health. Additionally, approximately $4 million of investments were made from its corporate foundation in 2021 to increase access to behavioral health services for people living in rural communities across Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
Early successes from these investments include:
- Increased access to innovative, person-centered behavioral health services through partnerships between schools, community-based culturally specific organizations and primary care providers
- Far-reaching public information campaigns that are breaking down stigma and helping communities build on effective prevention services and supports
- More than 30 peer support groups expanding their reach to provide comfortable and accepting environments to people in need
In the coming months, additional investments will be made to support local organizations who are part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a suicide-prevention network that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline. More information will be shared in June.
Regence serves more than 3.4 million people through its Regence health plans in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Each Regence health plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit regence.com.