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Vice Speaker lauds DMHSA, Administration for moving forward with fee schedule

Friday, April 27th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Vice Speaker lauds DMHSA, Administration for moving forward with fee schedule

(April 27, 2012 – Hagåtña)  Last night, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse took one step closer to becoming less dependent on taxpayers by presenting to the public Phase I of its Proposed Fee Schedule. Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz who attended last night’s public hearing on the new fee schedule says the plan would help wean the department off the general fund by possibly $7.5 million.

“I commend the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the Administration for moving forward with this plan to contain costs which does not involve laying off government employees and cutting benefits to retirees,” Cruz said.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, or MHPAEA, requires private health insurance plans to provide equal coverage for mental and physical health services. It is one of several laws passed by Congress since 1996 to make mental health care have some level of parity with the way insurance companies and employers provide coverage for other forms of medical care.

“According Mental Health’s financial plan presented last night, the department believes it may be able to recover up to $3.8 million in room and board services and $3.7 million in pharmaceuticals with this new fee schedule,”   Cruz said.  “For many years insurance companies have been required to provide coverage for mental health services so it makes absolute sense that the Mental Health finally take full advantage of this law and reduce the burden on the taxpayer.”

Cruz adds that the projected amount for room and board service charges could be higher by about $300,000 because Mental Health’s proposed fee schedule, which is based on Medicare’s approved rates, was not updated.
Mental health’s budget was about $7 million in Fiscal Year 1997. In January, the Governor submitted in his Fiscal Year 2013 Executive Budget a request for $17.3 million for the department’s operations.

For more information please contact Carlos B. Pangelinan at 477-2520 or carlos.pangelinan@senatorbjcruz.com.

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