Jeff D. Parties Exploring A Collaborative Approach to Improving Idaho’s Children’s Mental Health System
Last week, Young Minds Advocacy Project along with co-counsel Howard Belodoff and the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) met with the state defendants to discuss Jeff D. v. Evans. Originally filed in 1980, the Jeff D. case seeks to provide seriously emotionally disturbed children in Idaho access to intensive community-based mental health services.
Last week’s meeting was the second to occur between the parties since the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated three consent decrees dated 1983, 1990 and 1998, under which the State of Idaho committed to provide a comprehensive array of mental health services.
Because Idaho’s public mental health system has undergone substantial changes in the six years since the consent decrees were last enforced, both parties are exploring the possibility of undertaking a collaborative process for achieving the central purposes of the lawsuit. Towards that goal, plaintiffs’ counsel hopes to enter into negotiations with help of a neutral facilitator starting as early as July 2013.
Negotiations would begin as Idaho is in the midst of several major shifts in its public health system including:
- Under its Behavioral Health Transformation Plan, Idaho aims to merge mental health and substance use disorder services for both children and adults into a single, regionally controlled behavioral health system. Planning for this system redesign started in 2010 and efforts to implement the plan are ongoing.
- Idaho’s Medicaid program is in the process of shifting from fee-for-service to managed care for its behavioral health services. Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) recently awarded a contract for management of community-based mental health services to Optum. DHW expects managed care services to start on September 1, 2013.
- Idaho policymakers continue to debate expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This last March, Idaho Governor Butch Otter’s Medicaid Expansion Task Force formally recommended that the state participate in the optional federal program, estimating that the state would lose between $44 and $100 million if it fails to act. In fiscal year 2012, county indigent services and Idaho’s Catastrophic Health Care Cost Program spent more than $55 million on health care for uninsured state residents, most of whom would be covered under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provision. According to an independent report by the consulting firm Milliman, Idaho would see a net savings of $9.8 million over the course of a decade by participating in the expansion program under which the federal government would cover 100% of costs for newly eligible Medicaid recipients through fiscal year 2017 and 90% of costs thereafter.
Stay tuned for additional information regarding Jeff D. and Idaho’s changing public health system. If you haven’t already, please SUBSCRIBE to Hear Me Out so that you don’t miss any new information!