NAMI Statement Concerning the TennCare Partners Program

NAMI Cautions Against Managed Care Transition That Imperils Persons With Severe Mental Illness

Mar 25 1997

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) has serious concerns about inadequate services for people who are disabled by serious brain disorders such as schizophrenia and severe mood and anxiety disorders under the TennCare Partners Program. Insufficient funding, questionable contracting with providers, and inadequate monitoring of the Program have dangerously reduced access to life-saving and medically necessary treatment. As a result, patients and family members in Tennessee have had difficulty accessing doctors, case managers, medications, and crisis services.

"People with serious brain disorders and their families should not be put in life-threatening situations because of a shift to managed care," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie M. Flynn. "States, managed care organizations, and providers must be held accountable as we radically transform what is often the last refuge of care for people with severe brain disorders."

Flynn noted that the Tennessee Alliance for the Mentally Ill (TAMI), NAMI’s state affiliate, has worked continuously with the state of Tennessee to ensure a responsible transition to managed care in the public sector and applauded their steadfast efforts. For example, TAMI successfully advocated for a focus on individuals with the most severe brain disorders in Tennessee’s Master Plan, on which the TennCare program was based. In addition, TAMI continues to press for innovative community-based services such as the expansion of the P/ACT (program for assertive community treatment model program that has been proven effective in reducing hospitalizations and improving health outcomes.

NAMI calls on the state of Tennessee to assure sufficient funding and services to people with the most severe brain illnesses as it continues working to implement managed care in the public mental health system. NAMI further calls for improvements nationwide in the accountability of managed care programs serving people with serious brain disorders and their families.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, and anxiety disorders. Based in Arlington, Virginia, NAMI’s membership includes more than 140,000 people with brain disorders and their families, and 1,140 state and local affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. NAMI’s efforts focus on support to persons with serious brain disorders and to their families; advocacy for nondiscriminatory and equitable federal and state policies; research into the causes, symptoms, and treatments for brain disorders; and education to eliminate the pervasive stigma toward severe mental illnesses.