Not fair

I’m pretty critical of greedy, profit-hungry corporations but this week I have to side with mental health providers who had their reimbursement rates slashed 33% by the state health and human services officials. dhhsAfter reviewing an audit, state officials decided that the $60 per hour charged by mental health providers for community support services was excessive and retroactively reduced the rate that the state will pay to $40 per hour. This was a knee-jerk reaction by state officials. Maybe the current rate is too high, maybe it is excessive in relation to the cost of providing services, maybe changes are called for but not in the manner by which they were done. As Chris Fitzsimon pointed out in his Monday column:

Even if state officials believed cutting the reimbursement rate for the services was the right thing to do, why not announce it 60 days in advance and allow public comment?  

The state’s actions last week were unfair. More importantly, they set a bad precedent for doing business with our state government. When the state acts in bad faith, service providers will do the same. Nobody wins. If privatization is going to work at all, the state and the service providers are going to have to play fair with each other.

Right now, the trust has been broken between the state, the providers and the mental health patients; it needs to be rebuilt. We could start by having an honest and public discussion about North Carolinas mental health needs and what it actually costs to provide mental health services of all types. It’s the fair thing to do.

5 Comments

  1. Anglico

    April 11, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    We’ve been in a full court press on this at BlueNC and the legislators are blaming Easley and Odom.

    This is an opportunity for Legislative leaders to take charge of a horrific situation and turn it around.

    Who will step up?

  2. aplum

    April 11, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    The folks at BlueNC are doing a terrific job of turning up the heat. Thanks for leading the citizen charge.

  3. Screwy Hoolie

    April 11, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Great post. Thanks for helping to beat the drum.

  4. aplum

    April 12, 2007 at 5:02 am

    The Winston-Salem Journal is reporting today that the state is reconsidering the cut backs. Read this: State backs off its decision to cut rates Your calls and emails do have an impact.

  5. polklcsw

    April 14, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks for calling atention to this situation. Just heard about efforts at BlueNC, only to find the site is down (temporarily, I hope). NC State mental health reform is a spiralling disaster, and I’m becomming convinced political action is the only way to effect positive change.