Pathways Chef Executive Officer Kim K. McClanahan used a quote from Charles Darwin to best describe the status of mental health care under the Affordable Care Act.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives,” McClanahan said in quoting Darwin. “It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
“That prophetic statement is one for us to keep in mind,” McClanahan told those gathered for Monday night’s annual meeting and Christmas dinner for the community health agency that serves 10 counties. “We cannot hold on to the hope that minor changes will suffice when most experts suggest we are experiencing the most significant change in the health care world for at least 50 years.”
The leader of the mental health agency that has offices in Boyd, Greenup, Carter, Rowan, Lawrence, Elliott, Bath, Morgan, Menifee and Montgomery counties said, “Adaptation is necessary for survival.”
“At Pathways we love what we do, and we do it well,” said McClanahan. “Nonetheless, it is time to look at what we do, discard that which is not adaptable to current demands and keep or develop that which will be sustainable in our current environment.”
The impact of the full implementation of more aspects of the Affordable Care Act — a.k.a. Obamacare — in 2014 remains largely unknown, said McClanahan. But what is known is that far more Kentuckians than ever will be eligible for Medicaid beginning in January, and that should result in an increase in the number of clients for the mental health agency.
“With all change goes challenge,” McClanahan wrote in Pathways’ annual report distributed at the banquet at Bellefonte Country Club. “Will Kentuckians embrace obtaining health insurance and, if so, how will that impact services provided and revenue obtained by Pathways?”
Because of the expansion of Medicaid, Pathways is negotiating with three additional Medicaid managed care organizations in addition to the two already servicing Pathways’ region.
Kentuckians currently are not signing up for medical insurance or Medicaid at the anticipated rates, the CEO said. “However, it has been speculated that because there will be more insurance options available for those previously uninsured, state general fund dollars for community behavioral health may be decreased in the next fiscal year,” McClanahan wrote in the annual report.
All the unknowns demand that agencies like Pathways be flexible and adaptable in meeting the needs of this region, she said.
“There are many challenges ahead of us,” McClanahan said. “But with challenges come opportunities.” Now in its 47th year of operation, Pathways can “look back with pride while looking ahead with hope and with a determination to continue to meet the needs of the communities we serve,” she said.
After the meeting, McClanahan said Pathways continues to look for a location for an in-house drug rehabilitation center it first sought off U.S. 60 near Cedar Knoll, but opted to build in Grayson because of widespread opposition in Boyd County. However, the Kentucky Housing Corp., which is providing much of the funding for the facility, recently rejected the Grayson site, insisting the center needed to be in Boyd County.
Plans for the center are “up in the air,” McClanahan said, as a suitable location is sought.
“We still want to build it because the need is great,” McClanahan said. “And we’d like to build it soon.”
Those attending the banquet also heard from one of Pathways’ success stories. Twenty-four years after she first began receiving services from Pathways, Barbara Harvey, who lives in rural Montgomery County, has become a certified specialist and will soon begin her job as Pathways.
“I was really sick,” said Harvey. “Pathways never gave up on me. I was in a system for 20 years before they found the right medication for me.
“Pathways opened the doors that enabled me to live my life. Now I want to give back to others what Pathway gave to me. They gave me my life back and I want to be able to do the same for others.”
JOHN CANNON can be reached at email@example.com or at (606) 326-2649.