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New! Mental Health News Bulletin

Welcome to our Mental Health News Bulletin!

We will be regularly publishing articles and new related to mental health, billing, health insurance, and more directly on our blog! As we monitor trends in the industry we want you to be kept up to speed on the latest news, so we will be publishing regular news updates.

Stay tuned for more, but for now here is our news bulletin:

Washtenaw County saves mental health services in budget cut recommendations

Several recommendations to balance the 2020 Community Mental Health budget without cutting services were addressed by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners at a special meeting Thursday night.

Facing a $10.3-million budget shortfall for mental health services they say is due to under-funding from the state, commissioners said at the Aug. 22 meeting that $2.63 million from the general fund and $1.9 million more than the $2 million initial increase in anticipated state revenue will help avoid cutting service funds.

Read more here.

McKell: Congress can and should stop medical billing surprise

As a lawmaker and a business owner, I see and feel the effects of rising healthcare costs every day. It’s no surprise, that Republicans in Congress are looking at ways to reduce both costs and surprises.

Congress is working to end surprise medical billing — the practice in which patients are hit with unexpected bills for out-of-network care they thought would be covered by their insurance plans. As Congress finalizes their approach, they must ensure they do not jeopardize health care for anyone.

Read more here.

MSU: Nassar survivors can access Counseling and Mental Health Services fund starting Sept. 1

Survivors of abuse by Larry Nassar can begin seeking reimbursement for counseling and mental health services again next month.

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees picked New Directions Behavioral Health, an independent behavioral health services company, to administer the Counseling and Mental Health Services fund, formerly known as the Healing Assistance Fund.

Read more here.

Mental Health Care Hard to Get Even With Insurance

Obtaining mental health care can be difficult even for people who are covered by health insurance. Patients regularly deal with hurdles such as incorrect phone numbers for providers' offices, insurers' prior authorization requirements, month-long delays in scheduling appointments and psychiatrists who refuse to accept insurance at all, according to a series of studies by J. Wesley Boyd and colleagues at the Cambridge Health Alliance.

In a study approved by the Cambridge Health Alliance's Institutional Review Board and published in Psychiatric Services in January 2015, Boyd and his co-authors posed as people with depressive symptoms and tried to schedule appointments with 360 psychiatrists listed in a major insurer's database in Boston, Houston and Chicago. The callers presented themselves as being able to pay out-of-pocket or having insurance through either Blue Cross Blue Shield or Medicare and attempted to schedule appointments with the psychiatrists listed.

Read more here.

Aetna changes Kansas leaders with Medicaid contract at risk

Insurance company Aetna is bringing in new leaders to run its Medicaid operations in Kansas after complaints from hospitals and others put it at risk of losing its state contract.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Friday that Keith Wisdom is no longer the CEO of Aetna Better Health of Kansas.

KCUR-FM reports that the company declined to answer questions about whether it had replaced Wisdom but said in an emailed statement that it is “bringing in additional leaders with extensive experience in Medicaid” to help “effectively support the needs of this population.” The company would not identify the new hires.

Read more here.

Centene, Aetna protest losing Louisiana MCO contracts worth billions

Aetna and Centene, two insurers on the losing side for bids for Louisiana's Medicaid managed care contracts, have protested the state's decision, saying the process was flawed and biased.

Centene, as Louisiana Healthcare Connections, and Aetna were among five Medicaid MCOs paid $7.6 billion by Medicaid during fiscal year 2018 to cover more than 1.7 million enrollees, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Louisiana Healthcare Connections is reportedly the largest MCO in the state.

Read more here.

McLaren's new tele-health service is ideal for college students

Your body aches, the coughing is out of control and it’s the third day of missing classes. Homework is piling up and your roommates are concerned. Scheduling an appointment with CMU Health Services could take days. You have no idea what your insurance is or if it is compatible with Health Services.

McLaren Health Care’s new tele-health service aims to utilize the technology you carry every day. For $49 per visit the McLarenNow app allows patients to video chat with a board-certified physician at a moment's notice.

Read more here.

Is paperless billing hurting your finances?

Many people no longer get statements in the mail and only receive them via email. Paperless billing saves companies money and is good for the environment, but not everyone wants to go digital – and there may be good reason.

In a recent Consumer Action survey, the non-profit found that 78% of people who get paper bills in the mail review the transactions, while only 43% of those who use e-delivery look at their transactions.

According to that survey, most consumers prefer paper statements particularly from financial institutions and for medical matters.

They value having a hard copy. It not only reminds them to pay the bill, but it reminds them to look at the statement for errors.

Read more here.

Other states do mental health care much better than Colorado

In the last 20 years, a million and a half people moved to Colorado, according to the latest statistics from the Census Bureau.

They’ve moved here for the sunshine and mountains, for the job opportunities and laid-back people. Some moved here for the 230 craft breweries probably, others for the healthy, outdoor lifestyle.

They have not moved here for the mental health services.

Read more here.

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