Last Thursday, Medicaid held a public hearing about the new rules and regulations for children’s behavioral health in Nebraska. Right now, these rules and regs are still only in draft form, but they will soon be finalized. This hearing was for anyone to share their thoughts on the draft rules and voice their concerns. Most of the people who testified were behavioral health providers, but family members of children with behavioral health problems and organizations like Voices for Children shared their concerns as well.
Like many issues Voices for Children advocates for, we are concerned that the rules and regs limit access to much needed services for kids in the behavioral health system. We fear that the regs create unnecessary roadblocks that deny early interventions and preventative care to kids.
In our economy, we recognize that money is always a primary concern. We are afraid that early interventions and preventative care services are being denied coverage under Medicaid in order to save money. But denying early access to services to kids with behavioral problems just doesn’t make good financial sense. If we are able to intervene early and address problems now, then we stop issues from growing into more complicated and more expensive problems down the road.
Almost every person who testified at the hearing spoke of this concern: that denying access now creates huge problems later. As experts in their fields of psychology, psychiatry, and social work, these men and women provided countless examples of scientifically based proof that early intervention saves lives and saves money.
This sounds like a win-win for Nebraska.
We will be paying close attention in the coming weeks to see if Medicaid listens to Nebraska’s people and works to address the regulatory barriers so more kids can get access to the treatment they need.