On December 31st the sole substance use treatment clinic in Howard County for underinsured individuals and those on Medicaid will close. The clinic was run by the county health department.
The move follows a shift at the state level to move from block funding for local behavioral health services to a fee-for-service model. The shift makes it difficult, if not impossible, for most local health departments to continue to provide such direct services. Rather community based providers are expected to meet the county’s treatment needs.
As reported in The Baltimore Sun:
Roughly 750 of the clinic’s clients will move to community care providers as the state phases out grant funding for clinics run by local health departments and transitions to a fee-for-service model that pays health care providers for each service provided.
The shift, pushed by 2014 legislation as the state embraces an integrated system of care, reimagines health departments’ roles from service providers to local authorities that oversee and manage treatment. Some jurisdictions have already transitioned their clinics. Anne Arundel County, however, is trying to continue providing in-house services.
Maura Rossman, health officer of Howard County’s health department, said the department anticipates meeting the needs of most clients.
“We are hopeful that as we transition our clients to providers, there will be capacity to provide the services they need,” Rossman said. “We don’t know yet. The unknown is always a little nerve-wracking.”
The department has been preparing for the transition for more than a year. Rossman said the health department decided against maintaining the clinic because low reimbursement rates and maintenance costs were too high.
For more information read The Baltimore Sun.