Over the past few weeks the Maine Coalition for Housing and Quality Services has been involved in efforts related to MaineCare, specifically the Section 21 proposed rule changes. DHHS released proposed rule changes that are equally dramatic for other MaineCare sections. This past fall we discussed the proposed rule changes for Section 17, however only recently the urgency and level of severity came to light. Section 17, which provides services for people with Serious and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI), was one of the mechanisms of compliance for the AMHI (Augusta Mental Health Institute) Consent Decree. There are five clear ways folks can present with psychotic symptoms: Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform, Schizoaffective, Bipolar, and major depressive disorder with psychotic features. It is also possible with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or some personality disorders. In its proposed rule changes, DHHS essentially chose two of these - Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective disorder - as eligible diagnoses for Section 17 services. The proposed rules do include a mechanism for including these other diagnoses as eligible for services, but the process and documentation needed is potentially cumbersome. This is very concerning as it could result in many individuals being discharged from needed case management services and people currently housed with a BRAP (Bridging Rental Assistance Program) voucher could lose their rental subsidy. Mental health providers estimate that services that are allowing consumers to stay successfully housed will no longer be available to potentially 8,000 of the approximately 16,000 people currently being helped with this service. How does this affect you and your loved ones? There are significant numbers of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (ID/DD) who are dually diagnosed with a mental illness and are served either by both Section 17 and Section 21, or Section 17 while on the waitlist for Section 21. The new eligibility criteria could make those people with ID/DD and presenting with psychotic symptoms or other mental health related case management needs ineligible for Section 17 services. The rule changes are scheduled to take effect on April 8, 2016. The Portland Press Herald published an editorial regarding the Section 17 rule changes and the effect they would have on vulnerable people in Maine.
A petition is being circulated that will be delivered to the Senate, House, and the Governor.
Signing the petition is very simple and takes about 15 seconds. MACSP is taking action, as well as service providers in the mental health field. Please take a moment to sign:
"Section 17 allows people to be housed with supportive services and become stable in the community. The proposed rule changes would destabilize people, jeopardize their housing, and potentially put people into crisis."
I hope you will contact the Committee and let your voice be heard!
For your convenience, below please find links for each Committee member. Simply click on the link of the Committee member and you will be on that Legislator's page which lists contact information:
Senate: This Action Alert was forwarded to ASM by Cullen Ryan