Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Mental health counselors who treat clients with Medicaid suffer financiallySubmitted: 03/06/2017
Rose McBride
Rose McBride
Reporter/Anchor
rmcbride@wjfw.com

Mental health counselors who treat clients with Medicaid suffer financially
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

MERRILL - Employees at Park City Credit Union in Merrill spent Tuesday afternoon passing out turkeys, potatoes, and pumpkin pies to families in need this Thanksgiving. It's one of the many acts of kindness the credit union does in the Northwoods.

This month, the state credit union association recognized Park City with the Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action.

"There's one that's received in every state. We were lucky enough to receive the one in Wisconsin," said Park City Credit Union President and CEO Val Mindak. "We're very pleased about that for all of the things we're doing in our markets."

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Merrill could be the newest local school district to rely on referendum money in its school budget.

The district faces a $1.8 million dollar operating deficit for next school year, and it has had to take from savings for years to keep the school running.

"We've been making cuts, and we've gotten in the habit of making cuts. Unfortunately, we became very good at making cuts," said Superintendent Dr. John Sample.

A consultant's survey got more than 1,600 responses from people in the district. It shows two-thirds of respondents support some sort of referendum to help pay for schools.

+ Read More

MERRILL - Merrill Fire Department wants to remind you to stay safe this Thanksgiving.

Deep-frying a turkey is a popular cooking style, but it's also the most dangerous way to prepare your bird.
 
You should never leave the fryer unattended because it only takes seconds to boil over.

Turkey fryer explosions can be massive.

Set up the fryer in an open-air space, away from kids and pets.

"Fire can expand at least two times the size every minute. Leaving for two or three minutes? You're looking at a pretty big fire," firefighter and paramedic Phillip Skoug.

For those deer hunters out there, never place your fryer near your canopy.

You should also never leave food cooking in your kitchen untended either.

+ Read More

Play Video

LAND O' LAKES - Some artists learn about painting and pottery during art classes in school.

But one home schooled boy is finding other ways to perfect his art.

"Just being yourself and being creative," said 12-year-old Severt Beattie.

Beattie has a passion for painting.

"Sometimes I just want to be creative," said Beattie.
Beattie got inspired by art after discovering a family member was once a famous artist.

"My great grandpa was an artist. He has some really cool pictures he's made," said Beattie.

Beattie hits the books hard when he is getting home schooled. But often times, extra-curricular classes, like art class get overlooked.

"It makes me feel enjoyable and happy because I like all the colors," said Beattie.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River Elementary School teacher Brenda Liermann believes kindergarten is all about exploring.

Thanks to a grant from 3M in Wausau, her students will get hands-on experience when it comes to exploring the STEM fields. 

"We need to have them experience the engineering and the technology," said Liermann.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Paging through sales flyers, setting your alarm clock extra early, and standing in line with hundreds of people usually go hand in hand on Black Friday.

It's a day retail stores have to prepare for in advance and a day shoppers can't wait for because of those deals. 

+ Read More

TAYLOR COUNTY - A kindergartener from north central Wisconsin is among the first youngsters to bag a buck under the state's new law that eliminates the state's minimum hunting age.

Six year old Lexie Harris is no stranger to the woods.

Her dad, Tyler Harris, has taken her hunting since she was three.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here