Putting the Brakes on a Runaway Redesign

Sen. Linda Berglin announced a plan to slow and redirect the SOS redesign process. With a close eye to preserving some of the programs that were identified for elimination, she and other senators stated their intent to pass legislation requiring a different strategy from DHS and SOS. The group is mostly from the DFL, but some Republicans are joining in stating that the process must be slowed or changed. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) noted that DHS has a tendency to answer to the Governor, and not sufficiently include direction from the Legislature.

Specifically, DHS failed to heed the Legislature’s requirement that they address the issues of lost federal money because of facilities not eligible for MA certification. Berglin stated: “They didn’t do it, so I’ve done it for them.” The plan would also preserve dental services within SOS, and seek to increase Federal billing in order to pay for the retention of services.

We still have concerns. The “PERTS” model of care is still being discussed, even though we have remarkably little information about how that will be different from successful models already in place.

The other concern is looking at what is driving these efforts. For SOS leadership, the primary concern seems to be in providing highly intensive and rapid services, and significant reductions in the budget. However, the truth of the matter is that most people receiving SOS services have long-term needs. For some of the legislators stepping up to slow the process, the concern is saving local jobs. We’re not unsympathetic to preserving jobs and keeping qualified providers in the mental health system. However, the primary driver here has to be the delivery of appropriate services to clients. After so many cuts in the last year, we need to get the absolute most services per dollar we can.

MHAM and other advocates are sending our counter proposal to the Legislature. We take these concerns, and try to show what a patient centered vision of SOS might look like. Please stay tuned as we move forward!