Cambridge, Mass. — Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) announced plans today to continue its current child and adolescent acute hospital inpatient mental health services during the next year, during which time longer-term solutions can be pursued with policymakers, stakeholders, and insurers that share the responsibility in promoting mental health access and parity.
CHA’s decision to withdraw its notice to the Department of Public Health to integrate its Child Assessment Unit (CAU) and its Adolescent Assessment Unit (AAU) at the Cambridge Hospital campus was informed by an outpouring of support for CHA’s top quality child mental health inpatient services and encouraging progress over the past several weeks. While still underway, progress toward identifying potential short-term funding support has been made, so that longer-term solutions to sustain the services can be explored over the next state fiscal year.
“We understand how vital our inpatient mental health services are to our communities and region, a fact underscored by the deep community support we have received in recent weeks from elected officials, advocates, patient families, and local residents,” said CHA Chief Executive Officer Patrick Wardell. “Our extensive mental health services, which comprise 43% of our inpatient services, make us unique as a critical safety net provider. We are encouraged by the resounding community response about the value of our mental health services and are extremely appreciative of the committed steps by elected officials and the Administration in working collaboratively with us to find short-term pathways to sustain the services.”
State Senators Sal DiDomenico, Anthony Petruccelli, and Patricia Jehlen, on behalf of the delegation, advanced a Senate Fiscal Year 2014 state budget amendment that could yield short-term funding to partially mitigate the unreimbursed costs due to inadequate insurance rates for the important child and adolescent inpatient mental health services at CHA. “We are pleased by today’s announcement that builds on promising steps we made in the Senate budget, while more work is ahead to advance this proposal in the final conference committee with our House colleagues and with the Administration,” said Senators DiDomenico, Jehlen, and Petruccelli in a joint statement.
CHA continues to explore reimbursement discussions with key payer partners for child and adolescent mental health services. Numerous elected officials have been engaged in working with Cambridge Health Alliance.
“I am grateful to the CHA for listening to our concerns and working with our elected officials to find a way to sustain these critical care services for our city’s most vulnerable population,” Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said. “I know that the joint conference committee and Administration recognize the necessity of keeping these valuable beds open to children in Somerville and across the Commonwealth. I am confident this short-term solution will make its way into the final budget, and by working together and including local and state partners in the conversation, that a long-term solution will be realized after rigorous analysis and review that best identifies the needs of our residents.”
“I am relieved that the Legislature has found a way to provide additional federal funds to ensure the pediatric unit will remain intact. The CHA has earned the respect, gratitude, and envy of providers and families across the country because of the model of mental health care it has developed for our children and youth. This gives us time to breath and regroup to find a long-term solution,” said State Representative Marjorie Decker.
“I greatly appreciate the commitment of CHA and all the interested parties to finding a way to keep these two units open. We all still have work to do, but this is the essential first step to maintaining these vital services for children and families in our area,” said State Representative Jonathan Hecht.
“I applaud the Cambridge Health Alliance for deciding to maintain their highly-regarded and vital child and adolescent mental health units. I want to see the commonwealth set up and support CHA in its commitment to pediatric mental health services, by providing resources adequate to the demonstrated need,” said State Representative Denise Provost.
“I am happy to see that crucial child and adolescent mental health units will remain open for the Cambridge and Somerville communities. Their existence cannot be compromised. I look forward to the conversations that must take place between the state and CHA to ensure that the future of these services remains intact,” said State Representative Carl Sciortino.
”I’m pleased that CHA has decided not to consolidate these pediatric inpatient units and to ensure that our kids and families will continue to have access to the essential health mental health services the CHA provides,” added State Representative Tim Toomey.
Cambridge Health Alliance is an integrated, award-winning health system that provides high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine. For more information, visit www.challiance.org.