ON THE BLOG: THE VALUE OF RETAINING CONTRACT LOBBYISTS
While many larger companies, associations, or interest groups know the value of retaining contract lobbyists who monitor & influence the legislative or executive decision making of governments- many newer or younger companies tend to view those relationships as less impactful, a luxury expense, or a cash flow weight. However, many of these misconceptions could be inadvertently harming their business. This is especially true for innovative startups or businesses that pivoted through the pandemic & the uncertainty it brought for all business owners.
Integrity Telehealth Services is one of those companies who at first glance held the opinion that a contract lobbyist wasn’t something they were in a position to utilize as a young business. Integrity specializes in telehealth behavioral services, primarily targeted to students in a school setting, and is bringing mental healthcare access to many lower income or rural students throughout Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. While their services are making a real difference in each student’s lives through a time where pediatric mental health was experiencing dangerous and concerning trends, the way through which their services were delivered and billed was primarily allowed through executive orders, regulations waivers, and more red tape reduction that was only put in place to allow flexibility during the pandemic. This means that without the right laws and regulations being codified or set in stone much of their business could cease ability to operate.
Luckily Cliff Preston, CEO & Founder of Integrity Telehealth Services, was ahead of the curve and made the right call after giving it some thought- he retained JCD Consulting to work on a couple of specific issues and monitor what laws were passed that could affect his growing business. Throughout the legislative session, JCD Consulting was able to ensure mental health services continue to be reimbursable when performed through telemedicine, codify executive orders that reduced red tape & updated regulations, and more. The biggest win however was raising the amount of visits a person can see a behavioral specialist before a referral is required from a Primary Care Physician. Originally this regulation was a mechanism to reduce fraud, but anyone can benefit from mental health services & access in our rural areas is still a problem. Integrity found that this PCP referral can become a barrier to receiving needed services- especially for children.
Working with Rep. Lee Johnson, a Legislator & Physician from Greenwood, and the Department of Human Services we were able to work out a solution that benefits patients, providers, and protects the PCP referral process simultaneously. By allowing up to 10 visits before a referral is required, patients can immediately start receiving help while companies like Integrity can work on tracking down those needed referrals without delaying care or, as was the case for Cliff, seeing students without the ability to ever be paid.
“We weren’t going to turn away a student from our services just because their parents or the doctor had not been able to send a piece of paper our way. We knew we wouldn’t be paid but our services matter too much to let that turn kids away. We were amazed at how JCD was able to pull in all stakeholders to find an agreeable fix that helps us as a business, helps DHS ensure program integrity, and most of that helps kids get the services they need as quickly as possible.”
Other businesses that are operating in a new space, with a revolutionary product, or in an antiquated framework of regulations can learn from Cliff & Integrity Telehealth Services. Having an advocate with the right network, knowledge, and abilities can have a strong positive impact for your business and the people of Arkansas.