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In the Sunday, Nov. 24, G-T article written by Jenny Gold of the Tribune News Service, the former CEO of Magellan Health, Dr. Henry Harbin, is quoted as lamenting that services for mental health are becoming harder and harder to access. People think they have a mental health insurance benefit only to discover that there are no providers who have openings for them when they need care.

Well, duh! Dr. Henry Harbin and Magellan were the architects of the business practices which created this situation. I know: I worked in the managed behavioral health industry, often competing head to head with Magellan. Sometimes I worked in partnership with them. They were the kings of the lowball bid for a company’s behavioral health business. They promised the moon at low, low prices. Those prices were built on the backs of behavioral health providers who they paid at rock-bottom rates. It’s not a mystery why many, many providers refused to do business with them and those that did often prioritized seeing clients who had higher-paying insurance plans, leaving the Magellan members who needed care to fend for themselves.

Magellan is not alone in this practice, but they are an industry leader who has honed the art of selling paper provider networks to their customers. Why the Bowman Family Foundation looked to Dr. Harbin for advice is bizarre. I guess it’s like hiring a hacker to make your computer system more secure.

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Seth Bernstein

Corvallis

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