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Changes coming to state mental healthcare

Major changes are on the way for mental healthcare in Idaho.

Right now outpatient clinics using medicaid have loose oversight through the state.

The Department of Health and Welfare is in the process of selecting healthcare providers to manage patient care more directly.

These changes will go into effect July of 2013.

DHW still needs to choose exactly who will take over management and that may not happen for months.

Mental health in the state of Idaho is always a sensitive subject.

But it’s one the state legislature has decided to tackle.

Back in 2011, they told the DHW to bring in management.

It’s taken almost two years for the DHW to get input from providers and actual people who receive services on what they want management to be.

DHW created a list of items from this input and sent it out to management candidates detailing what they need to bring to the table if chosen.

These providers have until Dec. 5 to respond and then the department will choose who to bring on-board.

“The main message for people is this will be more efficient and effective. If you look at other states, well over half of them have managed care for mental health services and medicaid,” said Shanahan.

Now Idaho will be one of them.

Eric Pettingill, co-owner of the Mental Wellness Centers based in Idaho Falls, isn’t so sure about the move.

“It gives some flexibility to hopefully provide a broader spectrum of services to clients that we serve in mental health, but it also could be used as a tool to limit services as well,” said Pettingill.

Shanahan said in theory the extra attention should provide a better outcome for clients while streamlining costs.

“It really manages their care so they get the right services at the right time,” said Shanahan.

Shanahan said these services will be tailored more specifically to the needs of each mental health patient in the future.

Pettingill said his clinic has to meet medicaid and accreditation requirements, but they receive no clear guidelines on treatment plans.

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