State says ruling frees $38 million for mental health aid

State says ruling frees $38 million for mental health aid

October 5th, 2009 by Staff Report in Health

NASHVILLE - State officials say a federal court ruling involving the Arlington Developmental Center near Memphis means the state can use $38 million in federal funds to provide services for people with mental disabilities in Tennessee.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee granted a state motion that will result in the state being able to use the money for medical services through the state's Division of Intellectual Disabilities Services and TennCare, officials said in a news release.

"The court's ruling will allow us to provide benefits that would cover all persons in waiver services, not merely the members of the Arlington Plaintiff Class," said Stephen Norris, deputy commissioner for the Division of Intellectual Disabilities Services. "We have worked toward resolving court battles so we can concentrate efforts and resources on delivering the best possible services to Tennesseans with intellectual disabilities."

The ruling lets state officials terminate a contract with Community Services Network of West Tennessee. As a result, officials said, the state can then negotiate for these services to be provided by a current TennCare contractor, which will be eligible for federal matching money where Community Services Network did not receive federal funds.

Efforts to contact Thomas Prewitt Jr., listed on the Community Services Network Web site as the nonprofit organization's legal director, were unsuccessful Friday evening.

Officials said the state plans to use the additional funds to develop an integrated health services delivery model for people with intellectual disabilities who are served through the state's Medicaid programs.

Moreover, the additional funds may also let the state offset any future cuts in the Division of Intellectual Disabilities Services that might otherwise be necessary in Fiscal Year 2011.

"The employees of the division continually strive to enhance the quality of care for the persons we support," Mr. Norris said. "Our focus must always remain on the persons we serve. Family members will be pleased to learn we are leveraging more federal funds to take care of those who are in need of these services."

CSN was created after the court in August 1999 required Tennessee to enter the contract to provide healthcare services to members of the class lawsuit. These services were in addition to those that were otherwise available through TennCare or home and community-based services program.