health care

Behavioral health providers seek pay parity

Posted 2/25/13

PROVIDENCE – A group of Rhode Island behavioral health providers met privately on Feb. 22 with representatives from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and with R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller.

One of the issues discussed was how to resolve any remaining problems caused by recent coding glitches that resulted in Blue Cross wrongly denying hundreds of claims and delaying payments for behavioral health providers in Rhode Island beginning on Jan. 1. The health insurer has apologized for for the problem,

A larger issue of parity in payment for behavioral health providers is still unresolved, according to Peter Oppenheimer, a psychologist with Feil & Oppenheimer Psychological Associates in Barrington, and a leader of the nonprofit organization known as the Coalition of Mental Health Professionals of Rhode Island. The group includes representatives from each of the professions licensed to provide mental health services in the state – social workers, nurses, mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and marriage and family therapists.

The issue regarding parity in pay was first raised in July of 2012 with Koller, according to Oppenheimer. A letter asking for a formal inquiry was sent to Koller in September of 2012, according to Oppenheimer.

The problem is that despite federal law guaranteeing parity for behavioral health providers, Oppenheimer explained, behavioral health professionals were being paid at a lower scale than other medical specialties by Blue Cross.

“The only response I got [from OHIC] was a letter implying that they were investigating, and that they did not want to talk about it while they were investigating,” Oppenheimer said. The result of the decreased payments, Oppenheimer continued, “is that it makes the economics of private outpatient psychotherapy nearly impossible to do.”

Further, Oppenheimer said that despite the calls for strengthening behavioral health services in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., murders, there has been a disconnect with the way that behavioral health fits within the framework of health care reform. “Everyone talks about the importance of behavioral health, but when it comes to implementation, it doesn’t always fit into the equation,” Oppenheimer said. “When it comes to implementing health care reform, behavioral health tends to get neglected.”

No comments on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment
Calendar
PBN Hosted
Events

Only a few seats remain for PBN's Manufacturing Awards Dinner and Ceremony, Thursday, April 24th, at the Bryant University Bello Center. Don't hesitate. Register today!
  • Business Women
    Accomplished. Confident. Wicked Smart. Nominate women you know who deserve speci ...
  • 40 Under Forty
    It's the 10th Anniversary of 40 Under Forty, and PBN is planning a special event ...
  • Healthiest Employers
    Enrollment now open for the 2014 Healthiest Employers Program. Please take a mom ...
Advertisement
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  •  
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  •  
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
  •  
    National
    Local
    Latest News