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John Dow

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Fla. might fund for-profit mental-health providers

The Kaiser Family Foundation says that Florida ranks 49th in America in per-capita spending on mental health.

As policymakers seek to address this problem, Republican leaders present a conservative approach: End the the dependence on not-for-profit managed-care providers and open it up to for-profits to compete for  hundreds of millions in state funding for mental health.

The Miami Herald reported Rep. Gayle Harrell, (R.-Stuart), who is sponsoring the House bill, HB 7119, said that for-profit companies would have to follow, in The Herald’s words,  “the same ‘ground rules’ as the not-for-profit organizations known as ‘managing entities,’ which now are required to spend no more than 5 percent on administration and devote the rest of the budget to mental health services.

”The goal is to provide more performance-based payment of services, but the idea has drawn mixed reviews from mental health advocates. On one hand, they welcome the long-overdue update of the state’s mental health delivery system. On the other, they question how a chronically underfunded system could have room for big companies to make profits.”

“’There is a belief by some that for-profits are better, but while they may be good at being cost effective, they are not very good at being treatment effective,’” said John Dow, executive director of the South Florida Behavioral Health Network, told the paper.





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