Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Mental health counselors who treat clients with Medicaid suffer financiallySubmitted: 03/06/2017
Story By Rose McBride


NORTHWOODS - You probably think therapists who have gone through years of schooling and practice would be making a lot of money. That isn't always the case. In places where large numbers of people being treated for mental health are on Medicaid, insurance companies pay therapists much less than their asking rate.

The numbers show our part of the state is short of mental health professionals. 

Natalie Wetzel-Rasumussen owns a counseling service in Elcho. She's the only therapist in the area. 

"I actually had a number of friends who closed their practices, and they're not up here anymore. They moved out of the area," said Wetzel-Rasmussen. 

Clients come from seven different counties to see her. Seventy percent of those people are on Medicaid.

"We are in an impoverished area, and even with our working poor people who have very good-paying jobs, sometimes two or three or four are on Medicaid," said Wetzel-Rasmussen.

But Medicaid only pays Wetzel-Rasmussen 32 percent of her rate. 

"Private practice is the least-paid--that's where I get the little bit more than someone who works at McDonald's rates," she said.

It's not just a problem for her. The problems spans the Northwoods and much of Wisconsin. 

"I think one of the challenges is not to become a profit-oriented business model when you're providing care to individuals," said Richard Martin, director of Transitions Center in Rhinelander. 

In a federally designated mental health shortage area where many current therapists are nearing retirement, we need to bring in new therapists. That's hard with low rates. 
 
"One of the things that could help is if they actually raised the rate," Martin said. "I think we got a 1-percent increase eight or nine years ago."

We could also take a page out of Minnesota's book, where Medicaid pays more than Wisconsin. 

"Because their Medicaid rate is 40 percent higher than Wisconsin's Medicaid rate, which means that clinicians in Wisconsin make 40 percent less in Medicaid alone than clinicians in Minnesota," said Wetzel-Rasmussen. "Why is that?" 

With low pay, long hours and much heartache, there's a reason they still do it. 

"Because the need is there," said Wetzel-Rasmussen. "Because the need is there. Because I can help people. I have a skill that helps people."  

"Our business mentor said, 'You're actually not a business.' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'Well it should really be called a hobby because you're not making enough money to be called a business.' Which means there are other reasons why we do this," said Martin. 


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Rhinelander firefighters responded to a house fire off Boyce Drive early Sunday. The department got the call around noon.

Pine Lake and Pelican fire also responded. Firefighters say when they arrived they could see smoke coming out of the roof.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - A group in Merrill wants to revamp the city's dog park. Saturday the Merrill Dog Park Friends hosted a fundraiser for the upgrades.

The fundraiser was held at Our Savior's Lutheran Church. 10 local vendors participated. Members of the dog park group say it's important to make improvements.

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin officials are working to determine how to improve the statewide emergency communications network and who will pay for it.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports the Wisconsin Interoperable System for Communications allows public safety agencies to communicate with one another across the state, and sometimes coverage can be spotty. The state hired a consultant last year to examine networks in surrounding states and provide recommendations for maintaining Wisconsin's system.

+ Read More

EAU CLAIRE - Some Wisconsin students are still learning cursive, even though it's not required in the Common Core education standards.

The Leader-Telegram reports that elementary students in the Eau Claire school district, the Chippewa Falls school district, Altoona schools and Regis Catholic Schools all learn cursive.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOQUA - Students often create projects for class, but it isn't every day that students create projects for regional competitions. Many Northwoods students gathered in Minocqua to compete in a history day competition.

"This year's theme is called taking a stand in history," said Lakeland Union High School's Department Chair of Social Studies Mike Mestelle.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Most seven year olds want to use their birthday money to buy toys. But one Phelps girl wanted to do something different with her money this year.

Instead, Adrienne Trollan wanted to donate all the money she raised to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office K9 Program.

+ Read More

Play Video

ROTHSCHILD - The Latest on a shooting in northern Wisconsin that left a police officer and three others dead (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The police detective killed in a string of shootings that left three others dead and the suspect injured is being remembered as a friend who would help another in a heartbeat.

Forty-year-old Jason Weiland was a detective for the Everest Metro Police Department. He died Wednesday when he was shot in the line of duty.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here