County, agency try to reach agreement

From the Eugene Register Guard, May 11, 2009

County, agency try to reach agreement Valia Health Resources is putting its lawsuit against the county on hold for now

A Springfield mental health agency and Lane County are in talks over the county’s intent to close the facility, an attorney for the agency said late last week.

Valia Health Resources, which serves about 150 people with schizophrenia and other disorders, sued the county for breach of contract April 27 after the county said it will discontinue the agency’s Medicaid coverage after two years of alleged mismanagement.

“Valia is holding off on proceeding forward with its civil lawsuit while the parties attempt to come to an agreement,” Valia attorney Margaret Wilson said. “I’m not dismissing (the lawsuit).”

The county sought to end the federal reimbursements April 30, saying it found repeated instances of client assessments lacking documentation, inadequate clinical supervision, treatment goals that did not address issues reimbursable by Medicaid and other problems.

The agency acknowledged billing errors but said Medicaid reimbursements were appropriate and that the county’s review of Valia had numerous errors.

The county postponed termination of Medicaid coverage while the parties try to resolve the dispute. Valia clients do not need to change providers at this time, the county said.

In its lawsuit, Valia said the county breached the parties’ contract by refusing to provide a pre-termination hearing.

Termination of the contract would cost the agency $96,000 in damages for services that would not receive Medicaid reimbursements, Valia said.

Valia is one of the first full-service, peer-run mental health providers in Oregon backed by Medicaid. More than half of its dozen or so counselors, therapists and other employees have recovered from disorders.

Valia said in its lawsuit that Lane County employees “have exhibited a pejorative and insulting attitude toward (Valia) because many of (Valia’s) employees and directors have received mental health treatment themselves.”

Wilson said she hopes for resolution of the dispute in the coming months. If the suit goes to trial it could take almost a year, she said.

Liane Richardson, county counsel, did not return a call seeking comment.

EXTRA – Valia Health Resources is a subset of SAFE / Wonderland, a Springfield-based mental health peer/self-help organization.