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November 1, 2014

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New Medicaid payments could help ease mental health problems in Las Vegas

CARSON CITY – The federal government has agreed to double the rate it pays to treat psychiatric patients in acute care hospitals in Nevada, a move that could ease problems with the state’s mental health system.

The state Division of Health Care Financing and Policy said Friday the government will increase its reimbursement rates from $460 to $940 per day for a patient in these hospitals.

“I am optimistic this higher rate will encourage other medical facilities to provide adult inpatient psychiatric services in their community," said Romaine Gilliland, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Mike Willden, chief of staff for Gov. Brian Sandoval, said Valley Hospital in Las Vegas has already started converting a section of the hospital to provide 48-50 beds for those with psychiatric problems that are covered by Medicaid.

In Clark County, there may be an estimated 100-120 patients sitting in hospital emergency rooms waiting for the state to accept them at the Rawson Neal Mental Hospital.

Willden said this should ease the backlog.

For existing patients on Medicaid, the federal government pays 64 percent of the cost and the state picks up the 36 percent. For new Medicaid patients, the federal government is reimbursing 100 percent.

Gilliland said the only acute care hospitals that have psychiatric wards now are Carson Tahoe Health Center in Carson City and Northeastern Regional Health Center in Elko.

The federal approval on the state’s application came from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the increase is retroactive until July.

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