- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - After hearted criticism, the company overseeing mental health and substance abuse treatment for Idaho’s Medicaid program says it’s fixing problems including long telephone wait times that providers said potentially put patients’ lives at risk.

Executives from Optum, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, told the House Health and Welfare Committee Thursday average waits for providers seeking approval for services have dropped to under 3 minutes.

That’s down from up to seven hours that behavioral health companies complained of last week.

Optum is being paid $10.5 million monthly to administer outpatient Medicaid’s behavioral health services as Idaho seeks to control costs, boost efficiency and give incentives to providers to offer appropriate services when needed.

Optum vice president Craig Herman apologized for the troubles, conceding they’d hurt Idaho providers’ ability to provide services.