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June 6, 2017 - 11:31am

County Mental Health Services planning to enter coalition with five other counties to form new nonprofit

posted by Howard B. Owens in County Mental Health, healthcare, news.

img_0824elleryreaves.jpg

Genesee County is joining with five other counties that have service-providing mental health departments to create a new nonprofit that should help improve services and lower costs, Mental Health Director Ellery Reaves told members of the County Legislature yesterday.

The new 501(c)(3) will be called Integrity Partners for Behavioral Health.

It's being formed both because regional mental health leaders see the need and because the state is pushing for more consolidation and more shared services. The state has made available $60 million for such consolidations in mental health services and Integrity Partners is the first of its kind in the state.

"So while other parts of the state are sort of scrambling to get themselves together, we’re literally going to submit our application with all of our providers, affiliate providers, and network providers, and it’s going to cover literally a six-county group so far," Reaves said.

Genesee County's Mental Health Services has a staff of more than 65 people, including doctors, therapists, counselors, and care managers. The service provides care to patients who either come to it through the Genesee County Jail, schools, other agencies, or just walk through the front door. The cost of care is either covered by private insurance or programs such as Medicaid or Medicare.

The goal of Integrity Partners will be to reduce costs through greater efficiency and improve care outcomes by sharing resources and knowledge.

"This model we’re moving to is more of a value-based, performance-based model," Reaves said. "We’re all going to get together and decide on what the matrix is going to be for what’s quality care. Then we as providers are going to try and meet those matrixes and get paid based on the efficacy in keeping folks out of hospital beds and providing service immediately, same-day access."

The six counties participating -- Genesee, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Livingston, and Orleans -- all have county-run mental health services. The coalition will also include non-government providers within the region.

The partners have retained legal counsel to help set up the tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation, as well as ensure the organization complies with all state laws and the requirements of the state incentives to organize it.

“If we can pull that off then this corporation will literally be on par with some of the larger health entities in the state,” Reaves said.

Lower costs and improved efficiency comes at a time when the county and the region need it, Reaves said.

So far in 2017, mental health services is on pace to serve more clients than in 2016.

Much of the increase is driven by the decreased stigma associated with seeking mental health care, but for children, social media is creating more problems, and opioid use leading to more mental health patients.

Reaves said the opiate crisis locally is "massive." 

"It's beyond what people can comprehend," Reaves said.

He added, "If you look at the stats on drug use, it's going to have a peak and once it peaks then it will start to abate once we can get more services in place. We haven't reached that point yet."

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