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Managed behavioral health organizations (MBHOs)--the companies that manage mental health and substance abuse benefits--support parity, and want to work with treatment providers to help patients get the help they need, officials from three of the biggest companies told ADAW last week. But the antagonism that has traditionally characterized the relationship between the payer and the provider may hamper that cooperation, even as the interim final rule moves toward the effective date of July 1 for plans (see ADAW, Feb. 8).
In this article, ADAW is presenting some basic information about three MBHOs, as well as the views of top officials on parity and access.
Ed Jones, executive vice president of ValueOptions and head of the commercial division, recalled the genesis of the managed behavioral
health plans. "Back in the 1980s, employers and insurance companies were experiencing huge escalating costs based on inpatient treatment for adolescents and people with chemical dependency," he told ADAW. "At that time we created panels and established a network; providers could be on the panel, but we negotiated a fee."
There are 23 million ValueOptions members, divided among three divisions: commercial (16 million), public sector including state Medicaid (4 million), and federal, mainly …