Three state agencies have launched a joint Mind Springs Health audit, sending state investigators to examine documents and financial records from the Western Slope 10-county nonprofit mental health agency.
The organization, one of 17 regional community mental health centers that receive millions of dollars each year in public funding, has been at the forefront of criticism as policymakers seek to revamp the health safety net system Colorado behavioral.
Mind Springs, which serves residents from Summit County to Mesa County, was the subject of a recent Colorado News Collaborative investigation which found that local officials – including the Summit County Jail – were shutting down contracts with the mental health center. Government officials and local residents said the center had failed to help needy people experiencing mental health crises and that its management did not publicly report on how it was spending taxpayer money.
The mental health center receives public funds, primarily from the state’s Medicaid program, to care for people in need who are covered by Medicaid, are underinsured, or have no insurance.
The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Funding, which oversees the Medicaid program, confirmed the review of the Mind Springs site on Tuesday, acknowledging that it had sent state investigators to Mind’s offices. Springs in western Colorado. Two other state agencies – the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment – are participating in the audit.
The review will look for signs of fraud, waste and abuse, as well as health and safety standards and financial transparency, according to a joint statement from the three departments.
Mind Springs public relations manager Stephanie Keister said the review was “not an investigation.” Instead, she said the center “collaborates and works closely” with the three state agencies to “develop opportunities to improve care” in the community.
“We look forward to this joint process and the results,” she said via email.
The “joint site review” comes after community complaints about Mind Spring reached the state level, according to the statement from the three state departments. The audit is intended to produce a list of “opportunities and obligations” for Mind Springs to address, state officials said.
Mind Springs has several clinics within its coverage area, which includes Summit, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffat, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties. It also provides mental health services in prisons and schools and operates West Springs Hospital in Grand Junction, the only mental hospital on the West Slope.
Mind Springs CEO and President Sharon Raggio had planned to step down in June, but resigned this month following the Colorado News Collaborative investigation.
“With the negative press recently, she felt that by stepping down earlier, she could allow the organization to focus on positive change that will really help our communities, from the negative rhetoric that surrounds her personally,” Keister said.
Doug Pattison, the organization’s chief financial officer, was named interim CEO after Raggio stepped down. In its first week, it “focuses on transparency” and met with local county commissioners and community leaders to provide information on funding sources and services offered by Mind Springs, which offers health therapy. mental health and addiction counseling.
Colorado’s 17 community mental health centers receive $ 437 million per year in taxes and have recently come under intense scrutiny from lawmakers and behavioral health officials who have questioned the lack of system monitoring. The centers, currently facing severe labor shortages, are seeing fewer patients than they were before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a period during which demand for mental health services is rising. ‘is intensified.
In the Mind Springs area, voters in Summit County passed a tax measure in 2018 to fund mental health care and an alternative to Mind Springs. The county has since terminated three Mind Springs contracts and is working to end its relationship with Mind Springs.
Summit County hopes to join the new Eagle County Community Mental Health Center called Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. The center was launched with a $ 60 million investment from the local nonprofit, Vail Health, as local leaders said Mind Springs was failing to cope with the mental health crisis of the community.
The findings of the Mind Springs joint state review will be made public when the review is complete, state officials said.
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