Billing Problems Cause Mental Health Cutbacks

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The state Legislative Auditor says problems with the claims filing system used by a private firm that handles Louisiana's behavior health programs has led to cuts in personnel and services at two of the districts that provide mental health services in south Louisiana.

         The Advocate’s Marsha Shuler reports that the auditor said Monday that the Florida Parishes Human Services Authority and the Acadiana Area Human Services District have fallen far short of meeting revenue targets because of problems with the Magellan system.

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         Among the problems: The system couldn't handle billing of third parties.

         Magellan took over in March 2012 as Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration privatized management of Louisiana's behavioral health services. The state health department has said that Magellan is working on fixing the problems and training district personnel.

         "The inability to achieve budgeted revenue is absorbed primarily through not filling vacant positions. With vacant positions, its caseloads and waiting times have increased, resulting in drops in services," the auditor concluded.

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         The Florida district, based in Hammond, collected approximately 13 percent of its budgeted self-generated revenue for fiscal year 2013 — $388,438 compared to $3 million anticipated and only 49 percent for fiscal year 2014, some $1.49 million compared to $3 million, according to the report.

         The Acadiana district, based in Lafayette, collected approximately 37 percent of its self-generated budget target in fiscal year 2014 — its first year of full operation. Fees and revenues totaled $824,806, compared to the budgeted $2.2 million, the auditor reported.

         For more information

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