A Prescription for Mayhem

How shrinking psych wards spell trouble

In 2002, a Minnesota Psychiatric Society task force cited low reimbursement rates by health insurers as one reason for the lack of beds. Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership statistics show that the average cost of hospital treatment of a psychiatric patient was $1,388 in 2000, but insurers covered an average of just $678.

"The truth is, mental health beds are compensated far less than, say, cardiac beds," says Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch. "And so every hospital is expert in cardiac care." The Fairview hospital system, he adds, has worked harder than most to continue providing quality psychiatric services.

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