Sacramento and Solano Counties Square Off With State Over Mental Health Duties

SACRAMENTO — Sacramento and Solano counties are in a standoff with the state over psychological well being protection for a portion of Medicaid sufferers in the ones counties — a dispute that threatens to disrupt deal with just about 50,000 low-income citizens receiving remedy for serious psychological sickness.

The Division of Well being Care Services and products, which administers Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, says Sacramento and Solano counties should take over managing and offering uniqueness psychological well being deal with hundreds of Medi-Cal sufferers enrolled in Kaiser Permanente plans. It insists on transferring the duty as a result of California’s final 56 counties already function this manner. State officers argue the transfer would simplify the state’s disjointed psychological well being machine and is had to put into effect a bigger transformation of Medi-Cal, an initiative referred to as CalAIM.

State well being officers gave counties till March 15 to just accept Kaiser Permanente sufferers, so California can correctly switch their uniqueness psychological well being care to counties through July 1. However the two counties are rebuffing the switch, arguing that with out extra investment they may be able to’t adequately deal with a big inflow of Medi-Cal sufferers with serious psychological well being stipulations, equivalent to schizophrenia or bipolar dysfunction. Medi-Cal officers, in the meantime, are threatening steep consequences or probably terminating psychological well being contracts with the ones counties.

Native officers warn that if the state follows thru with its plan, about 39,000 sufferers in Sacramento County and about 8,000 in Solano County may see their care disrupted and, for example, could also be pressured to discover a new psychiatrist.

“For somebody who has schizophrenia or every other severe psychological well being dysfunction, it has taken a very long time to construct a depended on dating with their supplier, and now they’ll see that care disrupted or must discover a other supplier,” mentioned Debbie Vaughn, assistant county administrator for Solano County. “There shall be dangers of folks going into disaster.”

Ryan Quist, director of behavioral well being products and services for Sacramento County, mentioned the counties needn’t best extra investment, but in addition extra time to switch the sufferers’ care. “The state is taking part in hen with their lives,” he mentioned.

Beneath state legislation, counties are accountable for administering and turning in uniqueness care to Medi-Cal sufferers with serious psychological sickness. Medi-Cal managed-care insurers are accountable for offering remedy for gentle or reasonable psychological well being stipulations, equivalent to anxiousness or low-level despair.

However beneath a decades-old association between the state and the counties of Sacramento and Solano, California has been paying Kaiser Permanente to offer all psychological well being deal with the well being care massive’s Medi-Cal enrollees. Now the state is dissolving that association, forcing kind of 7,000 uniqueness psychological well being sufferers in the ones two counties to transport out of Kaiser Permanente and into county-run psychological well being plans.

State officers argue that the 2 counties are legally obligated to offer deal with Medi-Cal sufferers with serious psychological sickness and that county behavioral well being businesses will be the ones striking sufferers at risk if the counties proceed refusing the shift. Medi-Cal sufferers enrolled in well being plans rather than Kaiser Permanente get their specialised psychological well being care without delay from counties.

“Sacramento and Solano counties’ failure to have interaction on this procedure puts Medi-Cal participants prone to shedding get admission to to crucial Medi-Cal entitlement products and services,” mentioned Tony Cava, a spokesperson for the Division of Well being Care Services and products. “DHCS will haven’t any selection however to do so if the counties proceed to refuse to satisfy their duties.”

The state is thinking about sanctions or terminating the counties’ contracts, however Cava mentioned that “contract termination isn’t DHCS’ most popular method.” He declined to elaborate, including best that the company would “establish answers to proceed protection” for Kaiser Permanente sufferers.

He mentioned moving sufferers to the counties will supply “a extra constant and seamless well being machine through decreasing complexity and lengthening flexibility.”

Counties recently obtain a portion of state gross sales tax income and automobile license charges to fund uniqueness psychological well being care, however beneath the settlement in Sacramento and Solano, the state has been paying Kaiser Permanente from its total fund to serve a portion of the insurer’s total Medi-Cal enrollees’ psychological well being wishes.

Beneath the shift, California would forestall distributing general-fund money to the counties. As a substitute, counties would obtain a better proportion of current gross sales tax and automobile license rate revenues put aside through a 2011 association. However Kaiser Permanente’s uniqueness psychological well being sufferers, the counties argue, weren’t beneath their purview on the time that settlement was once reached, underscoring their criminal argument that the state will have to duvet the prices in their care.

The state is providing an extra $11.6 million a 12 months to Sacramento and $7.7 million a 12 months to Solano, which might draw down further federal investment. That money could be siphoned from income different counties depend on for behavioral well being remedy.

“The insult to harm is that this takes money from different counties,” mentioned Michelle Doty Cabrera, government director of the County Behavioral Well being Administrators Affiliation, “and throughout California we’re seeing a better call for for products and services, particularly after the pandemic.”

Sacramento County desires $36 million extra each and every 12 months to hide a 16% building up in sufferers, or 4,836 folks. Solano County seeks just about $17 million extra each and every 12 months for expanding its load through 50%, or 2,091 sufferers.

Behavioral well being officers say counties also are suffering to recruit and retain psychological well being execs keen to serve Medi-Cal sufferers.

“Our machine is already bursting on the seams,” mentioned Le Ondra Clark Harvey, CEO of the California Council of Neighborhood Behavioral Well being Businesses, which represents native psychological well being suppliers.

State officers consider that each counties have an ok collection of psychological well being suppliers, with the small exception of Sacramento County’s want for 2 to 3 further psychiatrists to serve youngsters.

Kaiser Permanente instructed KHN that it didn’t ask to transport sufferers out of its community of care and that it instructed the state it sought after to proceed serving them. But it in the long run agreed to switch care to the counties.

“Whilst we had expressed our choice to proceed to offer uniqueness care to this susceptible inhabitants,” mentioned spokesperson Gerri Ginsburg, “we appreciate the state’s long-term goals.”

KHN (Kaiser Well being Information) is a countrywide newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about well being problems. In conjunction with Coverage Research and Polling, KHN is likely one of the 3 primary working methods at KFF (Kaiser Circle of relatives Basis). KFF is an endowed nonprofit group offering data on well being problems to the country.


This tale may also be republished free of charge (main points).

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