WALKER -- The Cass County Board voted Tuesday to terminate financial support and withdraw from membership in the Northern Pines Mental Health Board, effective at the end of this month.
The board voted last fall to seek proposals from other mental health service providers rather than to continue an exclusive contract with Northern Pines.
That agency was formed by area counties a number of years ago when there were few private mental service providers in the area.
Commissioner representatives from member counties manage Northern Pines with a joint board. Each participating county provides base financial support and pays for services under an annual contract with Northern Pines.
The Cass board first declined to renew its service contract for 2001, then Tuesday withdrew its annual base support, thereby dropping membership.
Under the annual service contract, Cass had guaranteed Northern Pines a minimum annual payment for services, even if client use did not reach that minimum.
Tuesday, the board selected five mental health service providers who had submitted proposals to the county for providing out-patient services. Each provider will be paid only for services clients use in 2001.
Any Cass County resident who has insurance or personal ability to pay may continue to use Northern Pines services. Health and Human Services Director Dorothy Opheim also said a few people who have started treatment with Northern Pines will be able to finish their treatment with the same service.
New mental health service clients, however, who are not eligible for any private health care coverage, will be served under a sliding fee scale by any of the five providers the county board approved Tuesday.
Those include CORE Psychological Services and Nystrom and Associates Ltd., both of Brainerd; Northland Counseling Center Inc., Grand Rapids; and Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center and Wilimek and Associates, both of Bemidji.
Family sexual assault treatment will be available from the same providers on a fee for service basis as needed, Opheim said.
Northern Pines Mental Health Center will continue to provide Cass County case management supervision at $110 per hour, not to exceed $5,280 this year.
Tuesday, the board also selected four of five service providers who submitted proposals to provide in-home services for families and individuals county social workers refer to them.
These agencies include Catholic Charities of St. Cloud and Brainerd, Family Support Services of New Brighton and Baxter, North Homes Inc. of Grand Rapids and Professional Association of Treatment Homes of St. Cloud and Bemidji.
These providers have agreed to bill Medical Assistance first, with the county as secondary payer, Opheim said.
She said a dollar cap will be set for services each of these agencies provide and a discretionary fund set aside for emergencies. The total in-home service budget will be about $225,000, she said.
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