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Behavioral healthcare providers ask for higher Medicaid rates if minimum wage increases

March 24, 2014
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The West Virginia Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association (WVBHPA) is urging legislators to approve an increase in the state's minimum wage only if they also increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for healthcare providers. House Bill 4283, which would increase the minimum wage to $8.75, now is in the hands of the Senate Finance Committee after being passed by the House of Delegates.

"If you are considering running this bill, we urge you to consider an amendment that would require Medicaid to increase reimbursement rates to compensate providers for the increased cost of doing business," WVBHPA Executive Director Mark Drennan wrote in a letter to legislators.

The behavioral healthcare providers who are members of WVBHPA employ more than 15,000 West Virginians. One member, the ARC of Harrison County, has calculated its cost to comply with the proposed higher minimum wage would be $400,000 a year.

"Medicaid providers are much like retired seniors living on a fixed income," Drennan said. "Increasing the minimum wage sounds like a good idea, but providers are powerless to comply without increased revenue to support it. Exacerbating this problem is coupling it with increased costs due to healthcare reform. This will have a detrimental effect on the more than 100,000 clients of the association's membership."

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