Note: This article was originally written spring 2012

Is your LME (local management entity) applying with the state to become a waiver manager (or an “MCO” or managed care organization)? The consider this: Through the years, how much “genuine welcome” (good terminolgy found in the original State Plan for Mental Health Reform) has been extended to the consumer community to ensure that the customer’s voice informs quality and progress in your local service system?

Has the LME been open, transparent, and engaging with its local consumer base, or is it more insulated in how it does its planning? Is your local CFAC well attended or is the turnover high? Does your CFAC invite consumers and other community stakeholders to share ideas or concerns on a comfortable level? Does your CFAC (Consumer and Family Advisory Committee) have legitimacy in your larger community and not just with the LME board?

Does your LME administration include asserted community opinion in its quality improvement planning? Is the service system planned well enough to prevent unnecessary hospitalization or crises, which can result in more trauma, stunting growth and recovery? And how empowered is the consumer affairs section of your LME? Does it have a strong voice within the administration? Is the office directed by a well-trained and knowledgable person who himself or herself understands first-hand the perspective of persons needing or using services by having learned from his or her own growth in spite of having a diagnosis? Welcoming consumer responsiveness is foundational to the quality and value of service administration.

These questions point out that successful waiver administration depends on the management style of the LME and on the continued, valued engagement with consumers and other stakeholders inthe communities it serves.

So what about your LME? And is DHHS looking at these elements? We surely hope so, because there is much at risk if we do not have a consumer-informed service system, especially when funds are ever-tightening! We as consumers believe that public dollars must buy VALUE. And we know value.

Change certainly takes patience, but alternately, progress requires patience, hard work, and collaboration. Stay tuned to learn how you can advocate locally and at the state level for changes that bring responsive innovation and solutions. Ω


EXERCISES FOR EVERY MOOD (See Living Well section)


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