Wednesday, December 17, 2008

taking care of our youth

Here in the great state of Illinois (governor not included), we have a community crisis stabilization program for Medicaid and unfunded families of children and adolescents. The SASS (Screening, Assessment and Support Services) program originated in the early 90's as a grant-based program primarily for wards of the state and lower income families seeking treatment.

As most behavioral health providers can agree, our work improves consumers functioning in at home, school, and in the community as well as job retention, overall general health, crime reduction and a host of benefits to society at large. We can also agree that we have done a poor job of showing how that grant money is spent. As a result, the feds decided to go after the non-profit providers and established a fee-for-service model for reimbursement. Early on, we heard rumblings about it as well as the institution of mandatory hospital prescreenings for all Medicaid and unfunded families. What we did not know was that Governor Blagojevich, in his infinite wisdom, would roll out the model with the crisis program.

Try to imagine providing a face-to-face emergency screening within 90 minutes, determining a need for psychiatric hospitalization or community-based crisis stabilization services and writing up an invoice.

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