Many U.S. citizens face significant mental health barriers based on where they live. If you’re a Minnesotan, for example, the government will pay more for your mental health care than it would if you live in Wisconsin.
This has been a real problem for Wisconsin where low reimbursement rates lead to the closure of a number of organizations providing mental health services in Superior. These non-profit providers could not continue to pay their psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists making it a struggle to justify offering those services even as the same funding imbalance also puts downward pressure on salaries for mental health practitioners. Mental health reimbursement rates are traditionally poor, paying 19 to 22 percent below payments for conventional medical or surgical care. It’s a long-standing problem that our nation tends to not recognize mental health care as real and true medical care.
Which leads us to provider shortages.
Shortages of mental health professionals are particularly problematic in rural areas and in counties with lower per capita incomes. (Douglas County is one of those counties.) Why? Shortages occur in areas that lack funding (low reimbursement, lack of private pay patients, a limited number of in-the-black providers). The average salary for a psychotherapist in Wisconsin is six percent below the national average, and still hospitals and clinics find it difficult to pay the going salary rate. Thus, clinicians leave.
The Miller-Dwan Foundation is tackling this problem in Superior by creating new mental health services that will address reimbursement by providing group therapy (one psychologist serving six to eight people all at the same time) and sharing mental health workers. It’s a new model of care for Superior called Partial Hospitalization. It works in Minnesota, and it will work in Wisconsin. And best of all, it recognizes that mental health care IS health care. If you agree, click here to find out more and make your donation today.