United Counseling Service (UCS) hosted their annual legislative breakfast to give an update on agency activities and challenges with state representatives on Monday, January 25th, 2016. Elected representatives attending the event included Senators Dick Sears and Brian Campion, and Representatives Steven Berry, Bill Botzow, Tim Corcoran, Rachael Fields, Alice Miller, Kiah Morris, and Mary Morrissey. UCS Executive Director Ralph Provenza identified that while the non-profit has made good progress in many areas, it has been forced to do more with less and continued budget reductions have challenged the organizations ability to provide needed services in the community.
“This is a value-based issue, and increased Medicaid funding would assist us in retaining qualified staff that provides quality services to people who need help most,” Provenza continued, “we are asking the legislature to commit to finding funds necessary to stabilize our system and help people in the community.”
Provenza reported that the state Medicaid authority unilaterally reduced group therapy rates, one of the fastest means to get people into treatment. This change creates a yearly estimated loss of $44,000 for the organization. Additionally, rates for a newly created Autism program were reduced so dramatically that the program was stopped in spite of a documented need in the community.
“The Designated Agency system, which UCS is a part of, has requested a 3% increase in funding over the next 4 years in order to provide some predictability and stability for employees and the organization at large,” said Provenza who expressed disappointment that the Governor’s FY 17 budget did not respond to this request.
Provenza also outlined the importance of including Designated Agencies (DA’s) into the health care reform conversation. “Our system helps those impacted by the “social determinants of health,” such as housing, jobs, and economic or environmental stressors that have a significant impact on long term health care costs. DA’s play a critical role in improving and stabilizing population health,” said Provenza, but “we need the resources to do our work”.