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    Low reimbursement rates compel mental health clinics to cut back

    Kevin Cullen’s column (“A list far too long,” Metro, Jan. 11) accurately portrays the current health care crisis for individuals and families seeking outpatient mental health services. The experiences Cullen describes of the mother and child seeking mental health services are all too common in Massachusetts today.

    The Association for Behavioral Healthcare represents more than 80 community-based organizations that offer mental health and addiction treatment services. A number of our members in recent years have closed outpatient mental health clinics or reduced their capacity to serve individuals and families because of woefully inadequate reimbursement rates by Medicaid and commercial insurers. Poor reimbursement rates result in significant operating losses for clinics across Massachusetts. These organizations have taken the difficult steps of closing clinics so that mounting financial losses do not impair their ability to offer other services they provide in their communities.

    Dr. Leonard Rappaport. chief of developmental medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Cullen are right to point out that, ultimately, this is a parity issue. Despite strong state and national mental health parity laws, without sufficient reimbursement, individuals and families who need outpatient mental health services will remain second-class citizens in our health care system.

    Vicker V. DiGravio III

    President and CEO

    Association for Behavioral

    Healthcare

    Natick