Faces of reform – Woodard
Trip Woodard has worked in counseling and therapy in the Asheville area for more than 25 years. He provided services to Medicaid-funded clients through Western Highlands Network before the waiver model was implemented. He is continuing to provide services under the new model, but has concerns.
Trip said he is committed to providing therapy for people who are “closest to the ground,” meaning those who may not have food to eat every night and struggle to survive. He said he is concerned that the roll out of the Medicaid waiver will keep him from treating clients as effectively.
Transcript: “The Medicaid ‘roll over’ has been very difficult for those of us who have been serving clients on the pavement, so to speak. We have lost a lot of good therapists. When I say that, I mean, some of the first therapists to be the ones to say, ‘I’m not gonna do that,’ tend to be therapists that are older.
Hey wait, I resemble that remark.
Ok, so what do I mean by that? Older therapists? What’s the big deal about that?
Therapists who have been in the field a long time also tend to have large networks, natural helping networks. So as the state and government and insurance folk tend to cut back on benefits, it’s more relevant for those of us with informal networks to be around. Cause we’re able to activate those networks. Whether it’s calling an attorney on a Sunday and saying, ‘Can you talk to such and so?’ Or getting people certain kinds of help more rapidly through informal networks. We can do that.”
Trip points to several reasons why he thinks that many providers are choosing not to accept Medicaid under the new waiver model.
Transcript: “One thing is the fact that our paperwork requirements have quadrupled. No, well, tripled. I don’t want to exaggerate. Our paperwork requirements are higher.
Two, our revenues are down. Now, that happened anyway, but it’s just a nasty coincidence that it happened at the same time as what’s going on.
Three, our costs are going up. So, for example, I’m having to provide liability insurance for my office that I didn’t have to provide before. My liability insurance costs more than my malpractice insurance.
So, the bottom line is I am spending more money and losing more time to serve an under-served population. It doesn’t make sense.”
Trip said he worries that experienced therapists will be replaced with one who are “green” and don’t know how to connect their clients with help as well.
Transcript: “One of the complaints I already have heard will grow louder, which is “What’s happening to my therapist? I keep getting a new therapist every other month.” They’re losing therapists because the turnover rate is increasing. And the turnover rate is increasing because of people not wanting to mess with the Medicaid waiver system. So, it’s difficult.
As I mentioned earlier, for people like me, this is more than statistics. This is more than money. These are flesh and blood people that I have to listen to because I choose to listen to them because I care that I listen to every week. So not a week goes by that I don’t get a phone call from two or three people, usually parents, usually single parents, who are distraught and who are upset. They are simply looking for help for their children and they’re not getting it.
It breaks my heart.”
Note: Western Highlands Network said that any consumer in need may always call a 24 hour number to receive guidance on access to services. 1-800-951-3792.