Published in the Iola Register on Dec. 7, 2012.

Letter to the Editor 12-7

Dear Editor,
 Effective November 1, 2012, TRICARE terminated Licensed Clinical Psychotherapists (LCPs) from TRICARE’s provider network because it was determined that LCPs do not meet the new eligibility requirements which were implemented by TRICARE Management Authority (TMA) earlier this year. TRICARE is the health care program serving veterans and military dependents.
 This decision appears arbitrary as LCPs carry equivalent state licenses to other therapists who were retained as TRICARE eligible providers. LCPs are fully licensed for independent practice by the state of Kansas, are fully credentialed as Qualified Mental Health Professionals and have been serving veterans and military dependents as TRICARE providers for years. This action reduces by seven (18%) the number of therapists at Pawnee Mental Health Services (Pawnee) who are eligible to serve veterans and military dependents in the Ft. Riley area.
 This is a very important matter to Pawnee, the licensed community mental health center serving ten counties in north central Kansas. Because of Pawnee’s proximity to Ft. Riley, Pawnee provides services to many veterans and military dependents. Pawnee has been working with TRICARE to seek an exception that would allow these veterans and military dependents to continue to see their therapists. After weeks of unsuccessful efforts, Pawnee has accepted the fact that there is nothing more that can be done besides educate the public and appeal to decision makers. Nearly 100 veterans and/or military dependents in treatment at Pawnee have been informed that they will no longer be allowed to work with their current therapists.
This is a travesty. It is unconscionable that TRICARE policies would restrict access to services for our veterans and military dependents by reducing the provider network, especially at a time when so much has been publicly said about our country's commitment to the mental health of our Armed Forces. How can TRICARE move to limit the provider network at the same time that the U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee voted to move forward with S. 3340, the Mental Health Access to Care Act, which is designed to provide veterans with access to consistent, quality behavioral health care? While the reduction of the provider network should be a national concern, it is especially concerning for veterans and military dependents who live in Kansas, where a wide variety of Qualified Mental Health Professionals must be employed to meet the demand for services.
 Pawnee is proud and honored to serve our veterans and military dependents. We regret that the new requirements of TMA compel us to disrupt the treatment services of so many at this time. Please contact your U.S. Senator and Representative if you are concerned about preserving access to mental health services for our veterans and military dependents.
Robbin Cole
Executive Director
Pawnee Mental Health Services