Program’s end will cut psychiatric beds for adults on Medicaid

A pilot program that paid private psychiatric hospitals to treat adults on Medicaid ended abruptly last week, two months earlier than expected, which could leave south Alabama with a shortage of treatment beds.

AltaPointe Health Systems has been receiving about $2 million annually since 2012 to treat adult Medicaid patients in its two inpatient hospitals, BayPointe and EastPointe, according to CEO Tuerk Schlesinger. Freestanding psychiatric hospitals have historically been excluded from Medicaid, and cannot receive payment for treating adults in the program unless they participated in the pilot program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services notified AltaPointe and other hospitals last week that money for the program ran out, Schlesinger said.

That leaves Mobile Infirmary as the sole treatment option in south Alabama for adult Medicaid recipients in need of emergency inpatient psychiatric treatment, Schlesinger said. Mobile Infirmary has 34 psychiatric beds. AltaPointe Health Systems had 66 beds in Daphne and 24 beds in Mobile available for Medicaid patients.

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