West Virginia Gov. Manchin Vetoes Medicaid Mental Health Reimbursement Hike, Promises $12.7M To Improve System
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) on Thursday vetoed a $1.5 million bill to increase Medicaid reimbursements for mental health care services over three years, but said that the state will direct $12.7 million in state and federal money to community-based mental health services and reduce overcrowding in psychiatric hospitals, the Charleston Gazette reports.
Including federal matching funds, the legislation would have generated as much as $6 million for the state's Medicaid program. Manchin said he vetoed the bill because "it does not fairly address the behavioral health care needs our state should be addressing." He added that it would have established "a precarious legal precedent for medical reimbursement codes in state law" (Knezevich, Charleston Gazette, 5/7). The State Department of Health and Human Resources opposed the bill on the grounds that it would fail to relieve overcrowding at psychiatric hospitals because it would only affect a segment of mental health care providers (Breen, AP/Charleston Daily Mail, 5/7).
Manchin said the state will allocate $2 million, as well as $5.7 million in federal Medicaid matching funds and $5 million from the federal stimulus package, to bolster the Medicaid mental health care system, spokesperson Matt Turner said (Charleston Gazette, 5/7). According to Manchin, the money was made available through "responsible management of our state's finances" (AP/Charleston Daily Mail, 5/7). DHHR spokesperson John Law said that a task force of the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Commission will start developing priorities for the $12.7 million (Charleston Gazette, 5/7).
Both chambers of the state Legislature passed the bill unanimously, and might seek to override the veto, the AP/Charleston Daily Mail reports (AP/Charleston Daily Mail, 5/7).