Local News

DHHS outlines changes to state's mental health services

Posted January 7, 2011 3:44 p.m. EST

— Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler says changes to the state’s mental health care program will provide a better quality of services to patients and hold health care providers more accountable.

The state’s 2001 mental health care reform efforts resulted in hundreds of companies offering services and too much fraud and abuse that caused patients and consumers across the state to get lost in the system, Cansler told reporters at a news conference Friday morning.

The Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency, which became operational Jan. 1 , he says, will provide limits on who can provide some services to patients with mental health illnesses, developmental disabilities or substance abuse problems

It will also provide greater oversight to the programs and ensure the same levels of services and care exist across all providers.

“We want to provide fair compensation to good providers who work diligently to provide genuinely needed (mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse) services to people who need them,” Cansler said. “But we are also determined to prevent unscrupulous providers from cheating the system.”

The state so far has received more than 600 applications from companies wanting to be CABHA providers. Of those, 175 have been approved.

The new requirements also mean that some smaller providers likely won’t be able to make it through the system.

“It has been controversial because there are a number of small providers out there that won’t be able to jump through the hoops to be a CABHA,” Cansler said. “We realize that and regret that.”