The National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter representing over 2600 members supports HB 6885.
Reimbursement rates for providers under Medicaid is a decisive factor as to whether a provider will accept Medicaid recipients. When Medicaid rates were last increased there was in increase in providers accepting Medicaid. Maintaining rates at adequate levels is crucial to continuing to have a sufficient pool of providers.
In the field of mental health well over half of all mental health services in Connecticut is provided by clinical social workers. Prior to 2014 licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) in private practice were not included in HUSKY C & D. In 2014 NASW/CT did a survey of our members in private practice as to their willingness to accept Medicaid HUSKY C & D. 62% of respondents wanted to accept HUSKY and another 20% were willing to consider becoming providers. The biggest obstacle cited was a concern as to the reimbursement rate being too low. LCSWs were added in 2014 and we have had a robust response from social workers who have become providers. Maintaining reasonable provider rates will assure that there continues to be a significant participation by LCSWs in the Medicaid program so that Medicaid recipients have better choices of mental health providers, have greater access to providers, and can be seen in a timely fashion.
The Medicaid population comes with a variety of needs and issues that frequently go beyond that of higher income individuals. There is a need for case management and social impacts that require to be taken into account when providing services. Thus there is more work to be done to provide necessary care. This adds time and cost to providing services and providers who accept Medicaid should be reimbursed in a way that recognizes the level of care being provided.
The Affordable Care Act expanded enrollment in Medicaid, offering thousands of resident’s access to health coverage. With this expansion of coverage came a need for more providers and if we are to continue to have coverage available for this expanded covered population Medicaid rates must remain adequate to attract and maintain providers. We urge the legislature to maintain sufficient provider rates under Medicaid to assure an adequate pool of providers.