A workgroup would explore ways to reduce burdens facing the behavioral health workforce under a plan approved Thursday by a House committee.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, would create a workgroup inside the office of the chief behavioral health officer. The officer or their designee could appoint up to 15 members.

They would be tasked to review policies and regulations to identify “inefficiencies, duplicate or unnecessary requirements” as well as other administrative burdens that prevent workers from providing services, according to the plan.

A report highlighting short- and long-term policy recommendations would be due to the General Assembly within a year after the group’s first meeting.

LaPointe told colleagues on the House’s Mental Health & Addiction Committee that hearings held earlier this spring related to the behavioral health workforce made clear that administrative burden is negatively affecting providers.

“We are at an acute moment where we have an intense workforce shortage,” she said. “Anything we can do to reduce those barriers is what we want to do.”

Tyler Smith, director of policy and government affairs for the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association, said workers often have to deal with a “vast and uncoordinated array of requirements.” That can include repeatedly submitting the same data to access their critical care providers.

Smith said the proposal would make the “industry better for customers, clinicians and clients.”

A forthcoming amendment would allow the workforce’s chair to appoint a nonprofit organization to provide administrative support for the group. It would also establish an immediate effective date for the bill.

The plan unanimously passed the committee.

The committee also unanimously approved a plan by Rep. Margaret Croke, D-Chicago, related to network adequacy and so-called “ghost networks.”

Her plan would task insurers with auditing at least 25 percent of their provider directories for accuracy at least once a year and to make any necessary corrections. Plans would also have to provide information to allow customers to dispute charges for out-of-network providers or facilities that were incorrectly listed as in-network.

Consumers would be able to file a complaint with the Department of Insurance if charged for out-of-network services incorrectly listed as in-network.

The Department of Insurance would also have to “randomly” audit at least 10 percent of plans each year.

Croke said there is some overlap with Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed sweeping insurance reform, but her proposal gets into finer details on the issue, which can be more difficult in an omnibus package. Specifically, a coming amendment to the plan will insert a mechanism where patients can recoup costs.

“I think that there is some level of bipartisan support when it comes to this particular issue,” Croke said.