Bump okays privatization of SEMass mental health services
By State House News Service | March 31, 2016, 6:42 EDT
STATE HOUSE — In a win for the Baker administration, Auditor Suzanne Bump on Wednesday approved the privatization of government mental health services in southeastern Massachusetts, citing $7 million in savings and drawing a sharp rebuke from a union president who says the clearance threatens critical services.
The Department of Mental Health’s privatization proposal affects emergency mental health services in a region covering Brockton, Fall River, the Taunton and Attleboro areas, and Cape Cod and the Islands. Under the proposal, the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership (MBHP) will contract with Bay Cove Human Services Inc. and Community Counseling of Bristol County to provide services.
“This proposal was more complex than others my office has reviewed because of the type of service that is being privatized. Emergency mental health services play a vital role in helping some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Bump said in a statement. “We took our role very seriously.
To assess the quality of services under a private contractor, Bump’s staff visited facilities and met with community members, department officials and MBHP officials. The auditor determined that all services currently provided will be provided under the MBHP model “but at a lower costs while maintaining the same quality.”
In a statement, Massachusetts Human Service Workers Union, SEIU Local 509 President Susan Tousignant ripped Bump’s decision.
“In a region that has been devastated by the opioid crisis and suicide rates that are four times the rest of the state, any action that jeopardizes critical care for at-risk families is unconscionable,” she said. “The State Auditor’s decision to slash vital mental health and crisis intervention services defies logic – and endangers the lives of thousands of children and adults throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands. Front-line mental health clinicians and substance abuse workers will continue to fight to maintain these critical state-run services for individuals and families throughout the region.”
— Written by Michael Norton
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