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Wellspring Celebrates Accreditation - Courier-Journal Editorial

on Thu, 07/17/2014 - 15:37

Wellspring celebrates accreditation

An editorial published in The Courier-Journal on July 6, 2014

Kathy Dobbins Wellspring
Wellspring has been providing supportive housing and crisis services for adults experiencing mental illness or psychiatric crises in our community for more than three decades. It is with a great deal of pride that we share the news that last week we were awarded accreditation for our Crisis Stabilization Units through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. 

Wellspring’s board and leadership staff identified accreditation as key goal in our 2011-2014 strategic planning process. The decision came largely out of our recognition that healthcare across the country and within the Commonwealth was on the brink of significant change as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act, and Kentucky’s move to Medicaid Managed Care for behavioral health services.  We wanted to be prepared for the challenges of an increasingly competitive market and we wanted the formal recognition that our services met the high standards associated with accreditation. 

Behavioral health care in Kentucky is being profoundly affected by major changes. They include the Affordable Care Act, state expansion Medicaid, managed care changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program that expands services and provider types.

Many people who could not afford health insurance are now covered and we hope that this will lead to improved health outcomes for all Kentuckians. With greater access to care, many who could not previously afford it can now obtain a primary care provider, get preventive care, and address other health issues, including behavioral health. This makes good sense in a state that is consistently ranked as among the poorest and unhealthiest in America. 

Wellspring primarily serves adults with mental illness who rely on Medicaid for their health care. Our Crisis Stabilization Units, however, serve anyone in a psychiatric crisis including many uninsured. We have covered their costs through supplementary state funds. We anticipate that the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA will likely increase the number of insured clients.

As we prepare to serve a higher volume of insured clients, however, so do other behavioral health agencies, and the pressure to provide high quality, results-oriented care has never been higher. This should be a good thing for all.  But as Medicaid expands, the state is beginning to reduce its historic funding. Wellspring, other providers, and our fellow Kentuckians with mental illness have a lot at stake if this increasingly complex system does not work according to plan.

In fact, Wellspring may be forced to close a safety-net program that has helped more than 2,000 people with mental illness pursue recovery since 1982. Changes force continuous re-evaluation-- some programs will prosper while others may flounder.

Virtually all Medicaid in Kentucky is now regulated by private managed care organizations, charged with ensuring that the services their members receive are cost-effective and medically necessary.  The state expects MCOs to save money and ensure members receive quality services. Simultaneously MCOs must contain costs and please their shareholders (if publicly traded). All of this puts pressure on providers who are hustling to provide quality care while adapting to a new model of care.

If healthcare providers and MCOs can develop a client-centered collaborative system that effectively addresses client needs, perhaps the system will rise to our hopes and expectations and all Kentuckians will get the care they need to live full, healthy and contributing lives. Kentucky has a lot riding on this proposition.

 

Katharine R. Dobbins, LCSW

CEO, Wellspring

Louisville 40203