Now that Minnesota’s political leaders finally have ended a government shutdown in which there were no winners, one addiction treatment organization leader would like to see some attention paid to a new state requirement that he foresees being burdensome to the treatment system.
The term that has been on addiction treatment centers’ minds this month is not “shutdown,” but “program enrollment,” according to David T. Smith, PhD, treatment director for the New Beginnings at Waverly organization. As Smith writes to me this week, “As of July 1, 2011, Minnesota treatment providers have been required to ‘re-enroll’ their programs, signing ‘attestations’ as to the services they provide. The byproduct has been increased bureaucratic and regulatory oversight, and further rate reductions.”
Smith, who wrote the November/December 2010 Addiction Professional cover story on planning for an electronic health record system, says state officials initiated the program enrollment process in an attempt to standardize payment rates to providers across counties. But in general, he sees the process as generating these results: “Providers get less money, and despite clear and powerful requests to reduce regulatory oversight, increased regulation and new regulators will measure compliance with new enrollment criteria.”
Smith says publicly supported treatment providers in Minnesota have seen six years of net reductions in state funding, with many now dealing with up to a 30% drop in operating revenue.
Another change that Smith says merits attention involves the emerging role of mental health professionals in signing off on treatment plans that once were the sole purview of chemical dependency counselors. He writes, “Basically we are training people as licensed chemical dependency counselors and when they get into a work environment we’re telling them that they are partially responsible for individual patient care and that someone has to sign off on their treatment plans in programs providing co-occurring disorders treatment.”
If you’re a treatment professional in Minnesota, how do you assess the current situation for providers there? If you’re from somewhere else, does this scenario resemble what’s going on in your state?