Merger has real potential

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board June 13, 2012 08:40 am

The proposed merger of the two Baker County organizations that help residents deal with mental health and substance abuse problems could benefit those who need such assistance.

Officials from Mountain Valley Mental Health Inc. and New Directions Northwest Inc. are considering combining their agencies.

This merger makes sense.

Starting Aug. 1, money for patients covered by the Oregon Health Plan and Medicaid will be distributed to local or regional groups called Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs).

Having a single entity providing these crucial treatments should be more efficient — and more importantly, cheaper — than dividing those responsibilities. Ideally, the cost savings will make it possible for the new, merged agency to help more residents than are eligible now for government assistance.

Baker County commissioners heard last week from local residents who have struggled to get help for addictions and other problems, in part because agencies have a full caseload.

We urge the boards of directors from both Mountain Valley and New Directions to continue their negotiations toward a merger.