Mental Health America Applauds Dingell-Murphy Bill To Delay Harmful Medicaid Cuts
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (April 8, 2008)-Mental Health America is applauding legislation introduced by Congressmen John Dingell (D-MI) and Timothy Murphy (R-PA) to delay implementation of seven Medicaid regulations that would dramatically reduce coverage of services and supports needed by our most vulnerable citizens, including individuals with mental illnesses.
The "Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008" (H.R. 5613), would delay until April 1, 2009, implementation of the regulatory changes. The bill will be marked up on Wednesday, April 9, by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.
The seven rules include those that will reduce Medicaid recipients' access to rehabilitative services, case management, school-based transportation and outreach services, graduate medical education payments and hospital clinic services.
"The regulation limiting reimbursement for rehabilitative services, case management, and school-based services are particularly important for enabling adults and children with mental health conditions to receive care in their homes and communities instead of in costly institutions," said David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America, in a letter to Dingell and Murphy.
"We realize the need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Medicaid services for persons with disabilities generally and for persons with mental illnesses specifically. However, the approaches suggested in these regulations are regressive and will further fragment services ultimately frustrating our citizen's ability to recover."
The rehabilitative services option enables states to offer a range of community-based services that foster an individual's rehabilitation and recovery far more effectively than services offered in traditional clinical settings, he said.
The regulation would also prohibit Medicaid reimbursement for therapeutic foster care which is a widely-used, evidence-based mental health service provided as an alternative to institutional care to children who need to be removed from their home environment and furnished intensive mental health services.
Shern said the recent regulation on case management services also includes numerous troubling policy changes including a dramatic cut in services for individuals transitioning into their communities from institutions. Medicaid targeted case managers serve as a vital link to medical, social, educational, housing and other necessary services that enable beneficiaries to avoid crises that lead to costly hospitalization or incarceration.
Regulatory changes that would severely limit Medicaid reimbursement for school-based administrative activities and transportation services would negatively impact millions of school-aged children who struggle with mental health illnesses that often arise during the teenage years. Schools provide a critical link to care for children in need.
In December 2007, Congress enacted temporary moratorium on the rehab and school-based services regulations. However, these moratoria would expire on June 30, 2008 and the case management rule has already gone into effect.
Mental Health America is the nation's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in times of crisis.