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Board Expands Mental Health Contract

The Central Health Board of Managers approved on Wednesday an increase to the contract amount with Austin Travis County Integral Care (ATCIC). The $800,000 increase, bringing the total amount from $3,555,243 to a cap of $4,335, 243 which supports additional inpatient mental health crisis services for eligible Travis County residents.

The $800,000 in approved funding covers expenditures anticipated through Jan. 31, 2011. The contract is set to expire at that time but will be renewed on Feb. 1. The Board previously approved a total budget for ATCIC of $6.23 million for the 2011 fiscal year, which runs October 2010 through September 2011. This amount is derived from previous years’ expenditures, plus additional room for expansion of service capacity of approximately 1 million dollars. Based on anticipated needs, Central Health staff expects the Board will be asked to approve expanding funding for ATCIC beyond the budgeted $6.23 million toward the end of the fiscal year.

“We see it as one of our main directives to improve the state of mental healthcare in Central Texas. Central Health has always been a community leader in these efforts, and in cooperation with ATCIC and other community partners we have seen tangible improvement in the system over the past several years. This contract is a key component of improving the quality of life not just for the patients who receive its services, but for all Central Texans,” President & CEO Patricia A Young Brown said.

Mental health crisis services are traditionally among the most underfunded of healthcare services in Texas. Since its inception in 2004, Central Health has each year enhanced those services through contracts with area providers, particularly ATCIC. As demand continually increases due to the area’s expanding population and the ever-increasing number of Central Texans without health insurance or access to care, the need to provide assistance to mental health programs becomes ever more pressing. Mental health expenditures in FY11 represent approximately 6.2 percent of Central Health’s total healthcare budget.

“We look forward to building our collaborative efforts with Central Health to improve the overall health of our communities. Central Health is a critical strategic partner that has helped us improve our community services,” ATCIC Executive Director David Evans said.