MONTPELIER — As Vermont prepares for its move toward a single payer health care system, the Brattleboro Retreat and Blue Cross Blue Shield have started a partnership to integrate the treatment of medical and mental health and substance abuse care.
The new company, Vermont Collaborative Care, LLC, will start serving Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont customers on July 1.
The new company will have mental health professionals available to doctors and clients in the Blue Cross system, said Brattleboro Retreat President and CEO Rob Simpson.
“We have known for a long time that we need to treat the whole person; that the head and the body are part of one complete person. Right now the system is not set up to provide that integrated care,” he said.
VCC could potentially decrease health care costs by treating customers with mental health disorders before they end up in the hospital or emergency rooms, Retreat officials said.
“There is a basic agreement that our health care system is not financially sustainable,” said Peter Albert, Retreat senior vice president of government relations and managed service organization who will serve as president of VCC.
“We also know that mental health and substance abuse have an impact on medical costs. What this does is determine that you have to treat the whole person.”
Including mental health care in primary care also will help to break down the stigma associated with mental health disorders and encourage people to get help early, Albert said.
The private psychiatric hospital was recently cited for a series of deficiencies reported by a federal agency.
Albert briefed lawmakers and promised improvements last week.
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