Nonprofit Newswire | Mississippi Mental Health Providers Face Down State

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June 14, 2010: Source:  Sun Herald | This is a familiar story with an interesting twist. Nonprofits have long found themselves in untenable negotiating positions with government, often not being paid for the full cost of contracted services, a situation unlikely to be imposed on a profitmaking contractor. For instance, in Mississippi, the state decided in 2001 that it would offload a portion of the cost of the match to federal Medicaid funds flowing to mental health centers by requiring them to pay it. This year the six strongest of the 15 mental health centers in Mississippi decided to play hardball with the state and are refusing to pay their portion. Their action is intended to make the state take back its matching responsibility. Ed Legrand, the director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, is digging in, saying “they’ll no longer be considered state providers if the share isn’t paid by July 1. If that happens, the program is set up in such a way that funding for all 15 community mental health centers could be jeopardized.” The executive director of Region III Mental Health, Robert Smith responded, “We cannot continue to operate paying back 25 cents on every dollar that we earn. We’re all just struggling trying to figure out the best way to resolve [the issue].”—Ruth McCambridge