Plan would change payments for mental health care

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Legislature is considering a plan that would change the way the state pays to treat people who need emergency mental health care, a move critics say would gut the current system to benefit large hospital systems.

Under the current system, the state Department of Children and Families contracts with 117 public and private Crisis Stabilization Units around the state. They provide emergency mental health treatment, receiving nearly $300 a day per bed regardless of whether they are occupied.

The new bill (SB 1726) would cut the guaranteed funding by 75 percent and any excess patients would be sent to private hospitals, which would be paid about $1,200 per day for every patient they treat. They wouldn't be paid for unused beds.

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