Friday, August 31, 2007

ValueOptions eliminates 500 jobs -
Phoenix (AZ) Republic

By Ken Alltucker
Aug. 30, 2007

About 500 ValueOptions administrative positions will be eliminated this week as a competing provider takes over Arizona's $1.5 billion contract to manage Maricopa County's public mental health system.

Another 1,400 therapists and other ValueOptions clinic workers will become Magellan Health Services employees beginning Saturday when the new provider officially assumes control of the county's mental health services. Magellan hired the clinic employees to ensure a smooth transition for patients.

Yet managers, finance, information technology and other administrative jobs are no longer needed as ValueOptions exits Maricopa County. The Norfolk, Va.-based provider will retain a small staff of claims specialists and other administrative positions to tie up loose ends.

The big switch stems from Arizona's decision this year to award Magellan a three-year, $1.5 billion contract to manage behavioral health services for more than 60,000 low-income and mentally ill patients. ValueOptions held the contract since 1998, but the company was the target of many complaints about its patient care and case management.

Magellan spokeswoman Erin Somers said the incoming provider's top priority is caring for patients.

"We want to make sure the clinics are up and running Sept. 1," Somers said. "Once we get that underway and make sure we are servicing the needs of the consumers, we can take a look at gaps we have in our staffing."

She said that Magellan expects to study its case management staffing levels and decide whether additional managers are needed to ensure quality patient care.

ValueOptions has attempted to keep employees with the company through the end of this month by offering retention bonuses. Some have accepted new jobs at ValueOptions locations in other states. Other employees have already taken new jobs or returned to school.

Ortiz said about 286 administrative employees remained with ValueOptions through this week, mostly workers in the provider's quality management and evaluation departments. The other administrative workers whose jobs were eliminated already moved on.