More and more, people are asking me about Louisiana’s new Coordinated System of Care. Beginning today and in coming weeks I will answer the more commonly asked questions. Let me start with this series with this question:

Why does Louisiana use Medicaid to help pay for the care of abused and neglected children?

Today, more than 95% of our residents are in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) because of abuse or neglect significant enough for a judge to remove them from their families’ care. Since the late 1970’s, DCFS has paid a significant portion of the cost of caring for children who cannot live at home because of abuse or neglect.

Governor Jindal made changes in Louisiana’s child welfare system in March, 2011, creating what experts call a “managed behavioral health care system”. Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals was given responsibility for managing this new system called the Coordinated System of Care (CSoC). By executive order of the Governor, CSoC (sounds like “seasock”) is responsible for managing the care of all children in or at-risk of being in out-of-home placements.

Information from the Governor’s Office about the creation of the Coordinated System of Care is available here:

The Office of Behavioral Health at DHH was assigned responsibility for overseeing the work of Magellan, the company contracted to manage Louisiana’s Coordinated System of Care. Magellan functions as a managed care organization, managing the care of children who are in or at-risk of being in out-of-home placements. Because of CSoC, most of the money Magellan uses to pay for the care of children in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services is comprised of Medicaid funds.

Louisiana’s Coordinated System of Care takes $65.8 million state general fund dollars and, with changes to Louisiana’s state Medicaid plan, brings an additional $101 million Medicaid dollars into Louisiana. Medicaid is a federal health insurance program.

Of course, implementing CSoC in Louisiana is significantly more expensive than the previous child welfare system. So even with an additional $101 million (per year?), the end result is an “estimated total state savings of $16.3 million through fiscal year 2013.” This information is in the document from the Governor’s Office which is linked above.

Questions I will answer in the future include, “What has the financial impact of CSoC been on Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and others?”, “How will CSoC benefit Louisiana’s citizens?”, and “Why must the United Methodist children’s homes be licensed by the Department of Health and Hospitals?”

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