At the 2021 Oregon legislative session, a mental health crisis was declared, and funding was authorized to expand access to mental health services to all residents with a focus on Medicaid residents.
In our society, people often struggle to find any provider who will accept new patients, and it is even difficult to find a suitable one for them. Every local newspaper has published stories describing the effects of this crisis on individual citizens.
For those enrolled in an Oregon Health Plan (OHP), it is nearly impossible to access because Pacific Source has a policy that greatly increases the problem of lack of access.
In the Salem area, OHP is served by Pacific Source CCO. The OHP requires that members be appointed to a CCO unless they request and meet the criteria for an exception to be “open card,” meaning that they are not assigned to a plan.
Pacific Source will not process accreditation requests for affiliated service providers in private practice. As a result, anyone assigned to the Pacific Source CCO cannot access providers that other community members can access.
In Oregon, the Social Work Council currently has 1,437 active participating providers, and the Counseling Council has 1,942 providers in this category. That makes 3,379 providers who can help elevate Oregon’s current mental health crisis.
Oregon administrative rules specifically prevent a chief liaison from discriminating against a provider based on the type of provider. Although they are not required to include any particular provider, blocking affiliated mental health providers on this basis alone is prohibited.
Despite significant attempts to solve this problem with Pacific Source and the Oregon Health Authority, the problem persists. No one is willing to take steps to ensure that the CCO that OHA has contracted with follows Oregon’s administrative rules.
At the same time, OHA is spending millions of taxpayer dollars to hire new therapists from outside Oregon.
This is a huge problem and it will not be resolved overnight.
But there are rules in place that can benefit society immediately, and providers are willing to serve if only existing rules are applied and this organization will fulfill its obligation to society.
Kelly Hyder is a Keizer-based mental health provider registered with the Oregon Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists licensed as an LPC partner and Medicaid delivery provider. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.