Mental health employees get layoff notices – Transition to CCO makes budget situation unclear

From the Klamath Falls Herald and News, June 6, 2013

About 81 employees from Klamath County Behavioral Health and Wellness, formerly the mental health department, received 30-day layoff notifications Tuesday.

Department head Amanda Bunger said all the department’s employees received the pink slips to comply with layoff notices required by the county’s union contract. Notices are required if there is layoff potential.

As the behavioral health department transitions into its contracts with Cascade Health Alliance, the coordinated care organization for the county, and transitions from its former agreements with Jefferson Behavioral Health , it is unknown what the department’s budget will look like. Without a budget, staffing also is an unknown at this time.

When things are more sure, Bunger said the department can rescind the layoff notices.

Though Klamath County signed a memorandum of understanding with Cascade Health Alliance, it is still working on a precise contract with the CCO. Cascade CEO Bill Guest has said the contract will resemble similar contracts his company has made with other providers in the area. Once the contract with the county is set, Cascade will show the Oregon Health Authority it has a sufficient panel of providers to begin operating as a CCO.

Jefferson Behavioral Health has covered Coos, Curry, Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties before the advent of CCOs. Jefferson Behavioral Health is ending its mental health managed care contracts July 1.

For Klamath County, which does not yet have the CCO in operation, that means patients managed by Jefferson Behavioral Health will be put on a fee for service program until the CCO is in place. Bunger said agencies like Klamath Youth Development Center and Lutheran Community Services will be billing the state until the Cascade is up and running as the CCO.