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State Wants Time to Reconsider New Mental Health-Care Policy

Posted February 13, 2008

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— The state wants more time to work out a mental health-care policy that is to go into effect next week and that would change how some families care for disabled loved ones at home.

In a letter to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Health and Human Services requests a 60-day extension of the deadline so the state can have more time to work with the families that will be affected by the policy, known as Implementation 35.

The federal agency must approve any changes to programs it funds. The state has asked for an expedited decision about the extension.

Implementation 35, which goes into effect Feb. 22, limits the hours for which family members can be paid to care for mentally or developmentally disabled relatives who would otherwise be placed in an institution.

The state plans to have health-care providers from outside the home cover the remaining hours for which it has been paying relatives.

As the policy stands now, there are no exceptions.

Some of those affected by Implementation 35 have said it will force them to place those they care for into mental hospitals because of a lack of health-care providers across the state.


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