The private agencies that provide community-based mental health services across Vermont have taken a hit to their budgets, and they’re asking lawmakers to help restore the funding.
Last year, the Department of Vermont Health Access lowered reimbursement rates for a service known as group therapy. The new rates are in some instances only about one third the amount that the agencies formerly received.
“So every time you run a group, you’re going to sustain a loss,” says Margaret Joyal, the director of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services at Washington County Mental Health Services.
Joyal says the group therapy sessions help clients learn to manage finances, find services, and generally navigate the real world. She says the services are for offenders leaving prison, people struggling to overcome past trauma, and addicts in recovery, among others.
Joyal says the overall impact isn’t enormous, in the scheme of her organization’s overall budget. But she says Washington County Mental Health is already dealing with major budget pressures.
“What’s the saying about a million small cuts? This is another cut,” Joyal says. “We estimate next year and this year we’ll lose about $37,000, based on this rate reduction.”
Joyal and other service providers are asking lawmakers to restore the cuts in a budget adjustment bill now before the House Committee on Appropriations.