SANTA CLARA COUNTY: Eastfield Ming Quong Mental Health Clinic Keeps Up With The Times
Although lower reimbursement rates from managed care plans have forced many Bay Area mental health clinics to shut down, the San Jose Business Journal reports that Eastfield Ming Quong is "expanding its operations and building a new business strategy." In recent years, the Santa Clara County-based mental health agency for children and teens has moved away from a "strict diet of state and county funding" to add "private-sector contracts with managed care plans and physician groups." In fact, EMQ now contracts with Kaiser Permanente, Lifeguard Health Care, Blue Shield of California and two of the area's largest physician groups -- San Jose Medical Group and Santa Clara County Individual Practice Association. EMQ is also venturing into other areas of the state, recently securing a contract from Sacramento County "to create a mental health program for adolescents."
The Business Journal reports that EMQ has recently "moved from a cost-intensive inpatient program to a continuum of care that emphasizes outpatient and home-based treatment." California lawmakers passed a law this year (SB 163) that boosts the "wraparound" treatment approach "pioneered" by EMQ. The law allows counties to use state money to offer "tailor-made" wraparound treatment "in the home and school." The wraparound approach uses "teams of counselors and social workers" who meet with "patients and their families to provide everything from crisis intervention to help with transportation." Ron Kemper, EMQ's vice president for marketing, said public spending on children's mental health services "creates big dividends for taxpayers: the agency's outcomes studies show the majority of children who go through the wraparound program end up leaving social service rolls and the juvenile court system."
Long Way To Go?
The Business Journal notes that "[d]espite the increasing mix of private sector money" flowing into EMQ, most of the agency's funding continues to come from the Medi-Cal program. One reason is that the wraparound approach, though cheaper than institutionalization, is costly, "typically ... $5,000 per patient per month." EMQ expects the newly formed Healthy Families program to bring in new patients (Delevett, 6/29 issue).