INside Story

Mental health care: Organizations that accept Medicaid, Medicare

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Health insurance is a critical determinant of access to healthcare, but not everyone can afford it.

Millions of Hoosiers are either on Medicare or Medicaid, although both insurances are not always accepted.

However, there are healthcare providers that primarily treat Medicare/Medicaid patients.

Valle Vista in Greenwood serves patients as young as 10-years-old with addiction treatment and psychiatric care 24/7.

The facility has inpatient and outpatient services, hospitalization programs, including a residential program for girls. Valley Vista accepts appointments and walk-ins.

There’s also a statewide council that aims to restore hope, despite the challenges staff members face.

The Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers (ICCMHC) has 24 certified locations that serve all 92 counties across Indiana.

Valley Oaks Health Chief Strategy Officer Zoe Frantz told News 8 more than 9,000 patients receive help a year in Lafayette, Indiana and a few surrounding rural counties.

“We connect at schools, we’ll connect at the homeless shelter, we’ll connect at the jails, we’ll connect at people’s homes and then we can also do office-based services,” said Frantz.

Aspire Indiana Health is another center within ICCMHC. It’s federally certified health care that provided primary healthcare for patients with underlying health conditions. President and CEO Barbara Scott said Aspire Indiana Health focuses on ‘”whole-health” that also offers housing assistance and employment services.

“You cannot separate someone’s mental health issues from everything else that’s going on in their life. Employment, housing, their medical care, all of that has to go together,” Scott mentioned.

Healthcare professionals who accept Medicaid patients have said they’re overwhelmed as patient intake goes up and crisis calls surge.

“In order to get people into services, it’s very cumbersome,” Frantz said. “Sometimes, I feel like it’s cumbersome so less people can have access to service because it can be an administrative burden. It’s very challenging however it’s also very rewarding.”

Low reimbursement rates from Medicaid are set by the state and that can create pitfalls affecting daily operations and the ability to hire staff.

“Let’s say for me to provide an hour worth of therapy it costs $100 today and Medicaid reimburses let’s say $30. These are made up numbers. A non-for-profit community mental health center has to figure out a way to cover that gap,” added Scott. “We do contract with the state that helps cover that gap, but we may have to write for grants, we have to do fundraising, so you have to cover that gap.”

This is the third story in a series we’re calling “INside Story.” The rest of Aleah’s stories looking into access to mental health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those stories will air each morning this week on News 8.

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