SL County mayor ‘outraged’ after health care provider cuts care to patients

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jul 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-14 00:00:32-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams called for an independent investigation after Valley Mental Health moved to cut care to some patients—a move he called “outrageous.”

Valley Mental Health sent a letter to hundreds of patients that said in part, “for those who are doing well, we will stop providing services.”

Rachelle Graham was one person who received the letter, and she was not pleased.

“It just said as of August 1 you will no longer be a consumer at valley,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without them.”

The issue began several years ago when Salt Lake County contracted with Optum Health to give patients more choices for subsidized care. OH has a network of 200 providers in the county, and Valley Mental Health is just one of them.

In the face of state and federal budget cuts, county officials asked providers to reduce their rates for patients, and 199 of the 200 did so.

McAdams has met with some mental health advocates and patients, and he’s told them he is pushing for an independent audit.

“I`m quite frankly outraged at Valley Mental Health`s decision to reduce their clients,” he said.

McAdams said he’s contacted the health care provider about the issue.

“I called the CEO of Valley Mental Health, expressed my outrage with what I felt was a poor business decision and mismanagement and really not compassionate to the 2,000 lives that would be affected by this decision,” he said.

Valley Mental Health CEO Gary Larcenaire said they are dealing with a $5 million shortfall, and the money had to come from somewhere. He said the patients aren’t being simply dropped.

“They're not being cut, they`re being transitioned,” he said.

He said they've done what they can to make cuts elsewhere.

"We've done enormous cuts, all throughout the organization," he said. "We've reduced our labor costs in the last 12 months by over $350,000 per month."

He said there are other resources for those impacted by the change.

“Trust the system,” he said. “Call a new provider. Arrange a new appointment, and I think before long you`ll realize that you've transitioned, and everything is going to be OK.”

Graham said it isn’t so simple for her.

“It is a huge disruption,” she said. “What am I going to do now? How am I going to maintain my treatment and my recovery? It's always been a battle. It's always been something that could easily fall apart… It’s really upsetting. I'm going to miss my doctors and therapists.”

Larecenaire said he welcomes the call for an investigation, as he supports transparency.