Patients protest Valley Mental Health cuts

Posted at 8:24 PM, Jul 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-10 22:24:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY-- Thousands of patients are being told they will no longer receive services from Valley Mental Health, which said the cuts are the result of a $5 million budged shortfall.

More than 700 Valley Mental Health patients received a letter in the mail that informed them that Valley Mental Health would no longer be able to provide them with free health services.

Several advocates and Valley Mental Health patients showed up at the Mayor's office to demand answers Wednesday. Salt Lake City Mayor Ben McAdams said the $5 million cut didn't come from the county, it came from the federal and state level.

Valley Mental Health is now working with a $23 million budged instead of $28 million. They said one way to make up the shortfall was to cut care to people they identified as low-risk.

Salt Lake County officials said they wanted patients to have more options, so in 2012 Valley Mental Health started going through a health care provider called OptumHealth. The CEO of Valley Mental Health, Gary Larcenaire, said since going through the new provider, they've had to deal with restructuring.

Larcenaire said the patients who got the letters won't be abandoned, but McAdams disagreed.

"I`m quite frankly outraged at Valley Mental Health`s decision to reduce their clients in response to really a 2.5 percent reduction in their budget, they've reduced their clients by 25 percent," McAdams said. "I`m outraged at not only the decision to reduce their clients so significantly, but also in the way that they've done it."

McAdams has called for an independent investigation into the business decisions made at Valley Mental Health.