Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Only Higher Wages Will Solve Workforce Woes

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Only Higher Wages Will Solve Workforce Woes

Article excerpt

It's clear that the behavioral health workforce is stretched to its limit. Truly the only way to fortify the workforce is to incentivize employable Americans to join the profession by offering decent wages and a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. But where is the money going to come from to supply the paycheck that ultimately will energize a new team of clinical workers? We have some choices.

1. Get more money from public sources. Many not-for-profits continue to struggle with underfunded programs and Medicaid rates that don't even cover the cost of delivering services. When I was chatting recently with Linda Rosenberg from the National Council for Behavioral Health, she told me even the directors of the organizations themselves are thinking about career alternatives.

New appropriations of public funds to help pay workers to treat mental health and addiction disorders seems like a political longshot these days. It could happen in modest increments, but I wouldn't count on major investment.

The best hope here is an expansion of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, currently operating in eight states. Early in the demonstration phase, the clinics are working to create a flexible payment model that would absorb the cost of all the professionals required to provide the care a community needs. …

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