Nevada services for foster children at risk
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) ” Nevada lawmakers have been told that federal Medicaid administrators agreed verbally to give the state six more months to work out differences over a long-delayed plan for services to foster children with severe emotional problems.
But while Nevada Division of Child and Family Services administrator Fernando Serrano said there’s a verbal agreement, other officials said Monday the extension is on shaky ground and federal officials could reconsider.
The state plan was submitted to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services two years ago. Approval was held up pending changes at the federal level that would discontinue payment for services related to child welfare.
Half of Nevada’s $16 million expenditure for therapeutic foster care comes from Medicaid, and that’s matched by state funds. Therapeutic foster care enables children to get mental health services while living in a family-like setting.
Providers of therapeutic foster care are concerned about the uncertainty surrounding Nevada’s Medicaid funding, and that uncertainty is likely to continue until a state plan is in place, said Clark County Family Services Director Tom Morton.
Charles Duarte, administrator for the Nevada Division of Health Care Financing and Policy, said the federal commitment to extend Medicaid funding apparently depends on Nevada’s willingness to change its accounting methods for Medicaid services.
“They’ve now said that they may reconsider the verbal commitment unless we want to make changes,” Duarte said. “But we’re not sure what they want us to change. They’ve given us no definitive guidance on what they want.”
The issue of paying for therapeutic foster care arose as legislators on a committee studying the placement of children in foster care met for the first time. The committee, led by Sen. Steve Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, will look at ways to reduce the number of children in foster care and to devise standards for deciding whether a child should be placed in foster care.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com