What Section 17 is and Why It’s Needed

Section 17 is primarily case management – it’s practiced by highly trained and educated professionals who are very adept at navigating systems like medical practices, Social Security, public housing, and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It is not coincidental that DHHS seeks to eliminate services to the very clients who need assistance in getting support from them.

Just to prove my point, please call your local office of DHHS and tell me if you get through to a live person. Leave a voice mail and mark your calendar for when they call you back.

The rhetoric that is being spewed by Commissioner Mayhew is tiresome. She is most recently on record as saying that Section 17 services are not clinically appropriate. This is perplexing given that for many years now, the State of Maine has contracted APS Healthcare (a private entity staffed by clinicians) to determine what is and is not clinically appropriate under Section 17 (as well as other sections).

It’s hard to know who to trust these days. I don’t ask folks to trust me. I simply offer facts that are verifiable and ask that people do the responsible thing.

Commissioner Mayhew is saying that people being served by Section 17 can be transferred to Section 65. This is objectively untrue.

Section 65 is counseling and therapy that take place in an office. Unlike Section 17, it is not community based. Therapists do not have expertise in case management nor are they reimbursable for providing the services Section 17 does.

Commissioner Mayhew has one valid point – that those who live with psychosis are not being adequately served. This is absolutely true. Yet to argue that we must do more to help folks who live with Schizophrenia or Schizo Affective Disorder while proposing to cut the rate of reimbursement to those who would serve them by 29% is not logically consistent.

It would be important to consider why these individuals are waiting for services and to consider that Targeted Case Management was a vastly more appropriate level of care for those folks, which is a program DHHS eliminated.

It is time to reconcile what we are and are not willing to do for Maine’s most vulnerable. All that I ask is that it be done with objective facts and that is not what our Commissioner is offering.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.