Senior policy attorney Rebecca Brink testified before the DC Council’s Committee on Health at an oversight hearing for the Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF). Read a summary below or review the full testimony as submitted to the committee. DHCF oversees Medicaid in the District, and more than 92,000 DC children and youth are enrolled in the program, including nearly all of Children’s Law Center’s young clients.
In the past year, director Wayne Turnage has led DHCF to expand service delivery and maximize federal revenue. Some obstacles still remain, including the pending approval of DC’s Medicaid State Plan Amendment and clarifying the payment structure of the Early Intervention Program. However, there is still much work to be done to be sure that DC’s Medicaid system is functioning optimally, which in turn would improve children’s mental health.
Children’s Law Center believes that the two highest priorities for children are: (1) fixing the fragmented mental health system and (2) improving oversight and accountability of the managed care organizations that provide mental health care. To be reimbursed through Medicaid for providing mental health treatment to children, providers must apply for credentials with multiple entities – at least 7 and as many as 11 if providers want to offer a full continuum of care – and renew the ccredientials annually. Meeting these requirements is time-consuming and often cites as the reason providers will not accept DC Medicaid, leading to a shortage of providers and fewer services available for children who need them. The credentialing process must be streamlined. At the same time, data on utilization of children’s mental health is not readily available. Neither DHCF nor the Council can ensure the managed care organizations are fulfilling their obligations to childen.