State to increase Medicaid payments to mental hospital

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(Host) Earlier this week officials at the Brattleboro Retreat said financial problems threatened to close the facility. They said part of the problem is inadequate Medicaid reimbursement from the state. But now, the state says it will increase those payments, as VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) In a letter sent to the retreat this week, state officials said they’ll increase Medicaid payments roughly 10%. That will mean nearly $600,000 annually in additional reimbursements. The retreat’s out-patient and residency programs treat children and adults with psychological and addiction problems.

Brattleboro Retreat CEO Rick Palmisano says the Medicaid increase will help close a budget shortfall that was more than two million dollars last year.

(Palmisano) “I really haven’t had a chance to analyze all the numbers, but I think we’re a lot closer to closing that gap than we were even a couple of weeks ago.”

(Zind) Palmisano says the Retreat still must find other ways to make up the budget deficit. He says one answer is for the state to allow more Vermonters to receive addiction treatment at the Brattleboro Retreat. Currently the state Medicaid funds are used to treat more than 250 people a year at Conifer Park in Glenville, New York – the cost is over $1.5 million.

David Yacovone of the Vermont Agency of Human Services says the agency is reassessing its policy of sending so many people out of state.

(Yacovone) “We’re doing that analysis to see if we can bring that care back to Vermont. If we’re able to do that, certainly the Retreat and other providers can attempt to get in that line of business. We’re very hopeful that we can do it. It’s more than just spending the dollars in Vermont, which is very important, it’s about serving Vermonters closer to their homes where they can get good after care and their families can be part of their care.”

(Zind) Yacavone says in the past, Conifer Park has been less costly than in-state treatment. Officials with the Brattleboro Retreat say they working on a treatment plan that would be competitive with Conifer Park. They also say they’d like to open a methadone clinic at the retreat.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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