$3.5 Million agreement has agency continue providing mental health services
Canvas Health will continue providing mental health services to Washington County residents under a $3.5 million contract approved Tuesday by the Board of Commissioners.
More than $2.9 million of the Canvas Health contract is paid from county tax levy funds with the remaining more than $553,000 from grants, according to Cindy Rupp of the county’s Community Services Department.
Rupp said state law requires the county to provide mental health services to uninsured and under-insured residents. But she admits “significant shifts in funding” has forced the department to eliminate some services and add other services during a time when psychiatric care has become critical in the county and state.
“Overall, there’s been a reduction in this contract,” she said. “There always seems to be some access issues.”
Rupp said the contract requires Canvas Health to provide out-patient diagnosis and psychological testing, medication management and treatment; emergency services, including a mobile crisis team; day treatment; family-based services; mental health case management; housing support; vocational services, and home- and community-based waiver services.
The contract also requires Canvas Health to conduct annual comprehensive outcome reports and customer satisfaction surveys, Rupp said. Data from the agency’s 2011 report shows more than 90 percent of Canvas Health clients liked the services they received; 86 percent of clients discharged from the adult day treatment programs showed a decrease in their mental health symptoms, and out of more than 300 children served through the agency’s children’s mental health case management, only 14 percent were in an out-of-home placement for more than 30 days.
Rupp termed the children’s mental health case management data “positive,” adding, “We want children to stay connected with their families.”
However, Rupp and Rick Bachmann, CSD child services manager, both said the county has challenges providing mental health services to residents.
“Having adequate psychiatric care is a challenge,” Rupp said.
Bachmann admitted that the county does not work enough with school districts identifying children who need mental health treatment.
“School district participation has been a little less than we like,” he said. “What we’ve seen is that school district management turns over every five to six years and we’ve had a hard time keeping up with that.”
Bachmann also said it is hard to compare Washington County’s services to mental health services in other metropolitan counties because each county is addressing different issues with different groups.
“It’s really hard to compare our set of services with other counties. I think we do some things really well. We’re working on how we compare to other counties,” he said.
One advantage Washington County has is that many residents have health insurance plans that cover some mental health treatment, Bachmann said.
“One thing in Washington County is that we’re a pretty well-insured county,” he said. “There are some services in children’s (mental health) care that are not re-imbursible and we pay a lot for that.”
In other action, the board was presented a 2012 Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association.
Deputy County Administrator Kevin Corbid said the county was one of the few state counties to receive the award that is the only national honor given to local governments for budget presentations.
“Washington County is one of eight counties recognized for this honor,” he said.
The GFOA recognized the county’s budget book as being user friendly, clearly outlining the county’s goals and listing factors affecting the budget.