- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A new state audit finds the transition to private management of state behavioral health services continues to create problems for area groups that provide care for those with mental and substance abuse problems.

The report, a follow-up to one issued last year, looked at the experiences of five human service districts since Magellan of Louisiana took over as part of the Jindal administration’s privatization push. The initiative is called the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1otLnPC ) auditors found transition issues encountered by regional human services districts based in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Hammond and Houma.

“While some of the issues noted previously have been fully or partially corrected, difficulties remain for the districts,” Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera concluded. “Some districts continue to struggle with the challenges of meeting Magellan requirements, maximizing self-generated revenues, and delivering the services needed for their clients.”

In an audit response, state Department of Health and Hospitals Assistant Secretary Rochelle Head-Dunham said her agency continues to work with Magellan “to address the … issues and will continue to work with all providers, including the Local Governmental Entities, to support smooth operations and ensure people with behavioral health needs receive necessary services.”

Among audit findings were that:

The five districts reviewed continued to be unable to meet their self-generated revenue budgets, resulting in reduced staffing levels, higher caseloads, longer waits for services and drops in services delivered. On June 30, 2014, the collection was $8.1 million against a budget of $12.7 million.

Three of the districts could not collect on third-party billings - i.e., private insurance, Medicare - because Magellan’s electronic claims system - Clinical Adviser - could not handle them. It is likely the districts did not collect on over $1 million in claims.

The original Magellan contract of $357.6 million began March 1, 2012, and ended Feb. 28, 2014. The state opted to extend the contract until Feb. 28, 2015, increasing the total contract to $544.8 million.

In a four-page written response, Head-Dunham detailed corrective action taken since the last auditor’s review, including training of human service district employees in use of the claims system and lifting the timely filing of claims requirement because of “issues beyond the control of the providers” so they can be reimbursed for services delivered.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com


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