Letters to the Editor

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MENTAL HEALTH: Optum’s for-profit status is irrelevant

Letter by Allen W. Ratcliffe, Tacoma on March 13, 2013 at 10:46 am with No Comments »
March 13, 2013 12:37 pm

Re: “No vacancy” (TNT, 3-10).

Thanks very much for publicizing the damage being done to mental health services by continuing reductions in state funding for mental health.

However, I want to rebut a comment attributed to Amnon Schoenfeld, director of King County mental health and substance abuse services, in a sidebar article. He said that OptumHealth does not loan beds, that “They get some of that money and that is their bottom line. There’s their profit.”‘

Wrong! Optum has the same Regional Support Network (RSN) contract as all other RSNs in the state. By contract, all are allowed to allot up to 10 percent, and no more, to cover their administrative costs. Optum is required, as are all other RSNs, to reinvest any additional savings from improved services or penalty proceeds back into more or new services. Optum has done that. It cannot allocate service dollars saved to “profit.” If it makes any “profit,” it must come out of the 10 percent.

Bottom line: The fact that Optum happens to be a for-profit company is irrelevant.

(Ratcliffe, a community psychologist, is the current chairperson of the Optum Pierce RSN Mental Health Advisory Board. The opinions expressed here are his own.)

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