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The Division of Medicaid, Human Services, Mental Health, Health, Education and Rehabilitation Services organized into a network called Mississippi Access to Care, completed and submitted a plan Sept. 30, 2001. Beginning its work in November 2000, the group identified services currently available to people with disabilities and developed a plan to ensure that all Mississippi residents have access to appropriate services in the most integrated setting. The lead agency was the Division of Medicaid. Participation by state agencies, consumers, advocacy groups and consumer councils was voluntary. The plan addresses the needs of all disability groups, regardless of age or residential setting.
The plan is at http://www.mac.state.ms.us. The report contains recommendations for the next 10 years. It contains timelines, budgets, and specific strategies and goals and identifies the agencies responsible for implementing these strategies.
The recommendations address the following issues: consumer education, database development, housing, population identification, simplification and standardization, transition from institution to community, transition from children to adult service, and transportation. Consumer education includes outreach, communication and education, individual assessment and transition from institutions. The plan also calls upon the Legislature to designate a MAC Oversight Committee to coordinate the funding, implementation and needed revision of the MAC plan.
The plan's recommendations are written in order of priority. Therefore, the systems change recommendations-housing, transportation, assessment, training and consumer education-come first, followed by support services. The plan is located on the MAC Web site at www.mac.state.ms.us
House Bill 929, formally designated the Division of Medicaid as the lead agency. The Division of Medicaid supported the legislation because it essentially formalized the work that had already begun and identified issues to be addressed throughout the plan.
Senate Bill 2662, signed by the governor on March 18, 2002, authorizes the Department of Mental Health to develop a consumer-friendly single point of intake and referral system within its service areas for individuals with mental illness, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, or alcohol or substance abuse.
Enacting House Bill 929 through the Legislature and receiving support was a major success in the state.
The most significant barrier to the group's work is finding transportation to allow full consumer participation.
One lawsuit currently pending is directly related to the Olmstead decision. It was filed in May 2002 and is awaiting further action.
The state of Mississippi received a $1.385 million Real Choice Systems Change Grant. The money is being used for person-centered discharge planning for people between the ages of 17 and 25. A team of professionals assists adults diagnosed with mental illnesses make the transition from state mental health hospitals to community settings. A portion of the funds also will be used to provide community support for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses.
The state also is working on a progress report to identify those recommendations in the plan that have been implemented and those that have not.