NASW-NC Social Work Blog

Your source for the social work profession in North Carolina.

Member Opinion: Providers of NC Medicaid

The following was written from an NASW-NC member. It has been published with permission from the writer. 

If Freud accepted NC Medicaid and he cured ‘The Wofman’ but did not draft a Treatment Plan in the proper format he would have had to pay back all the money for the treatment sessions (Click here for info. on ‘The Wolfman’ —> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Pankejeff)

If Dr. Emil Kraepelin accepted NC Medicaid and not only classified and described Schizophrenia for the first time but was on the verge of curing it, but he did not submit a Service Order for more authorized sessions, he would have had to stop providing treatment (Click here for info on Dr. Kraepelin —> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Kraepelin).

If Dr. Marsha Linehan  accepted NC Medicaid and not only developed DBT but helped a client stop cutting on themselves on a daily basis and move to a place of emotional regulation and stability, but she did not write the start time of her sessions on her progress notes she would have been put on a pre-payment review and all of her payments delayed (Click here for info. on DBT —> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_behavior_therapy).

…I am glad that the Giants on whose shoulders we stand on did not accept NC Medicaid.

I recall a lesson from a long time ago in my Policy and Administration class in the School of Social Work (funny how some things stick, huh?).  The Professor discussed how a frequent trap in the administration of social services is the erosion of goals through the focus on process.  The goal and process become confused.  Looking at the macro, this is happening with NC Medicaid.  The process (documentation, authorizations, Alpha and Provider Connect, LOCUS/CALOCUS, etc., etc.) should be in support of the goal (client care) and not be a hindrance to it.  Unfortunately, what is happening is the process has BECOME the goal – providers are more focused on crossing t’s and dotting i’s, jumping through hoops, making sure that documentation is ‘audit proof,’ and hoping that auditors will be merciful than on providing the best clinical service available.  This deflection of effort diminishes client care.

Now, trying to think like a NC Legislator or a DMA employee, perhaps the theory is that if the lane is restricted enough and there are enough regulations and dis-incentives (payment consequences) put in place then the providers will be structured to the point of providing appropriate care.  Well, we all know how this is working out (http://medicaidlawnc.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/large-number-of-nc-mental-health-providers-no-longer-accepting-medicaid/).

In my private practice I found that these regulations caused the ’80-20 Rule’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle) – 20 percent of my case load were NC Medicaid clients and the regulations were taking 80 percent of my time.  The paperwork, service orders, authorizations, use of the LME/MCO computer based system, implementation reviews, audits, financial pay-backs for paper work technicalities and plans of correction became time, resource and cost prohibitive.

I have done my best to persevere through the user unfriendly labyrinth but recently stopped accepting NC Medicaid clients at my private practice.  This occurred with mixed feelings — less stress and an ability to re focus on client care for my other clients but a sense of guilt. Realistically, I know that for the sake of my business and family this had to be done but there is that little voice in my head saying “…good social workers help the impoverished and socioeconomically challenged.”  I still contract at agencies that accept Medicaid and IPRS and keep my fingers crossed that we will be able to weather the pressure.

What is sad is when I get a call from a potential client with NC Medicaid at my private practice and I tell them I am no longer accepting Medicaid – they invariably say “…I can’t find anyone who takes Medicaid!!! The therapist I used to see stopped taking it and now I don’t know what to do!!! I’ve been calling all over…”  I have to refer them to the intake line at the LME/MCO and hope they are referred to an agency that will not shut down in 3 months.

I wonder how many providers will be left standing as this continues.  I also wonder how some colleagues of mine will fair in the future – those clinicians who lost jobs as their agencies closed and went to what they thought was the safe haven of a job with the LME/MCO’s….will they still have jobs in 2 years when McCrory’s Medicaid Reform condenses mental health and physical health and reduces 10 LME/MCO’s to 3 CCE’s.

The saga continues.
Geoffrey Zeger, ACSW, LCSW

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3 comments on “Member Opinion: Providers of NC Medicaid

  1. Jack Register
    May 31, 2013

    Geoffrey: all I can say is here here!

  2. Jenny Tilford
    May 31, 2013

    AGREED!!!!!

  3. Hannah DeSotot
    May 31, 2013

    Thank you for this–we too are sad at our practice having to stop seeing certain LME’s and wonder what will happen to people we have worked with for years.

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This entry was posted on May 31, 2013 by in Advocacy and tagged , , , , , , .

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