Community Mental Health Centers Welcome Proposed Regs - Mental health advocates are welcoming an effort by federal officials to better regulate community mental health centers, calling it a long-overdue step 
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 Community Mental Health Centers Welcome Proposed Regs - Mental health advocates are welcoming an effort by federal officials to better regulate community mental health centers, calling it a long-overdue step

Community Mental Health Centers Welcome Proposed Regs
By Jessica Marcy
JULY 6TH, 2011, 11:27 AM
Mental health advocates are welcoming an effort by federal officials
to better regulate community mental health centers, calling it a long-
overdue step.

Its important because right now community mental health centers are
the only group of providers that operate in Medicare without
conditions of participation. Its important for there to be standards
to make sure that the program is operating efficiently, said Chuck
Ingoglia at The National Council, a mental health advocacy group.

In addition, a few centers have?come under scrutiny recently because
of?allegations?of fraud and abuse. In one high-profile case, federal
agents charged 20 people last October with fraud, kickbacks and money
laundering and alleged that American Therapeutic Corp., a chain of
mental health clinics, had illegally billed Medicare $200 million for
services in Florida.

The Office of the Inspector General and Congress have been very
concerned about that, Ingoglia said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services?three weeks ago proposed
rules including qualification standards for employees, proper
communications about patients rights and treatment plans that
community mental health centers participating in a special Medicare
partial hospialization program must meet for eligibility.

Under that program, patients generally seniors with psychiatric
symptoms associated with dementia and younger beneficiaries who are
unable to work because of severe mental illness receive
comprehensive mental health care, such as physician services,
psychiatric nursing, counseling and social services. The benefit is
intended to be a less intensive alternative to inpatient
hospitalization. CMS funds the service from only two types of
providers outpatient psychiatric hospitals and the community mental
health centers.

In recent years, several for-profit mental health centers have sprung
up almost exclusively to provide the Medicare benefit. They operate
quite differently from more traditional non-profit community mental
health centers, which generally receive the bulk of their
reimbur{*filter*}t from Medicaid and other sources besides Medicare,
Ingoglia said. The new rules would apply primarily to the for-profit
centers.

The current definition of community mental health centers in federal
law hasnt changed since 1980, and is woefully inadequate, Ingoglia
said.

States largely regulate community mental health centers, which has led
to significant geographic variation. Three states Florida, Louisiana
and Texas account for 74 percent of the total 222 centers that
participate in the Medicare program, while 28 states dont have
community mental health centers offering those Medicare services.

The proposed rule will make centers operate under rules similar to
those for hospital-based programs, advocates say.

This will be an important step in putting community mental health
centers on some level playing field with hospital programs, so that
when beneficiaries seek services they know that there are a certain
basic set of standards that are going to apply to both of these types
of setting, said Mark Covall, executive director of the National
Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, which works with 700 mostly
hospital-based behavi{*filter*}health care facilities.

CMS will accept public comment on the proposed rule until Aug. 16.


THIS ENTRY WAS POSTED ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 6TH, 2011 AT 11:27 AM.

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Wed, 25 Dec 2013 14:00:30 GMT
 
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