Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
CAUTION THAT PROPOSED “FEE-FOR-SERVICES” SYSTEM COULD PREVENT VULNERABLE RESIDENTS FROM GETTING NEEDED TREATMENT
The Morris County Board of Freeholders is strongly urging the state to ensure that a new behavioral services reimbursement system set to startup this year does not block some of the neediest state and county residents from obtaining vitally needed mental health treatment.
The Freeholder Board, in a resolution passed by a 6-0 vote on Wednesday, urged the state to put fiscal safeguards in place during the transition of its fee-for service system, or to delay the July 1, 2017 implementation date of the new system.
It also urged all other counties in the state to pass similar resolutions regarding the fee-for-services system.
“Fee for service may ultimately be great but it must be implemented correctly, as a system that works for all counties and towns and recognizes the differences in our communities,’’ said Freeholder Christine Myers. “If not, we are faced with jeopardizing some of our nonprofit agencies that have been cornerstones for services in our county for decades.
“The safety net we provide for the most needy folks could be dismantled, and what that ultimately would mean is that people in need will fall through the cracks and show up on our streets, in our jails, and in our hospitals’’ she added.
Morris County’s community behavioral health system serves thousands of the county’s most vulnerable adults, children and families with a full range of publically funded programs each year. Community providers rely upon both state and county funding to sustain the full continuum of mental health and addiction services.
Later this year, the state is transitioning from cost reimbursement contracts to fee-for-service rate reimbursement to support mental health and addiction services. However, the freeholders are concerned this change could dismantle a 40-year system in which the state provided the safety net that allowed service access for residents in need and did not depend upon ability to pay.
“Our goal is to serve residents in the community through adequate service access, not in our higher cost jails, emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals,’’ the Freeholder Board stated in its resolution. “We need full assurance that agency doors will stay open and current services remain available to New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents.’’
Robert Parker, Executive Director of New Bridge Services, and Louis Schwarcz, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Morris County, spoke in support of the freeholders’ resolution at the county governing board’s meeting on Wednesday evening in Morristown.
“We are going through dramatic changes in funding, changes that have not occurred over the last 40 years,’’ Parker said. “The 40 years of state funding have provided the mental health system in Morris County with a longtime safety net to help people who do not have any money. It helped us to afford to provide services that are not going to be billable under the fee-for-service mode.’’
Read the county’s resolution: https://morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Res36-FeeForService.pdf
For more information on the state’s Fee for Services plan, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dmhas/information/stakeholder/Rate_Setting_Transition_Overview.pdf