MANAGED CARE AND SPECIAL KIDS

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The era of Medicaid managed care holds huge new pitfalls for children suffering from mental illness and emotional disturbances, according to a report issued by a broad new coalition of 45 mental health care providers and advocates.

Over the next several years, the state will move most all of its Medicaid-enrolled children into managed care plans. The Children’s Mental Health Alliance for New York City was formed earlier this year to assure that those plans take into account the special needs of the 120,000 emotionally disturbed New York State children who could be eligible for specialized managed care. In a report issued last week, the coalition cautioned the state against adopting a standard model of managed care-restricting access to services based on financial considerations–which could prove destructive to troubled children who need a high level continuity and stability in their care regimens.

Over the last year, the state’s Office of Mental Health has convened several internal work groups to work out the future system. Those efforts are expected to accelerate by the early next year with the hopes of putting out bid requests to private HMOs and insurance companies in mid-1998.