Letter: A Hitch In Mental Health Services For Children

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A Shrewsbury therapists writes that parents should lobby for changes in how mental health services are paid for children on commercial health insurance policies. Photo Credit: File

SHREWSBURY, Mass. — The Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to shrewsbury@dailyvoice.com.

To The Editor:

A few years ago, the new regulations went into effect to improve mental health care for children with serious disturbances as a result of the Rosie D. vs. Romney lawsuit. These new changes to provide intensive mental health services only apply to children on Mass Health and not to those on commercial health insurance policies.

There are two loopholes for the latter to acquire these services:

  1. The child can be in the care and custody of the Department of Children and Families. Children and teens can then receive intensive mental health services either in their homes or in foster care.
  2. The parents or caretakers can apply for Mass Health, or CommonHealth (if they are income ineligible), if the child or teen has a qualified mental health disability. Please note it can take months to get approved for Mass Health. In the meantime, the child’s mental health needs are not being addressed adequately as commercial policies do not pay for the” bells and whistles” of intense services that Mass Health pays for their clients.

The only recourse that I am aware of is for agencies and/or private practitioners to apply for more counseling sessions for outpatient therapy. Despite a select few that offer intensive services for children on commercial policies, the waiting lists for these families are much longer than for families waiting for the same services on Mass Health. This is due to more agencies across the state that serve the Mass Health population only.

The waiting list problems are due to low pay and intensive paperwork requirements that result in the high turnover of qualified mental health providers serving children and teens.

I recommend that parents join together to advocate and lobby for legislative changes in how mental health services are paid for children on commercial health insurance policies.

Robbin Miller, Shrewsbury
Private Practitioner/Advocate

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