Consumer Rights Issues of Interest to
Consumers of Mental Health Services
Do you have a complaint but do not understand the grievance procedures? Consumers who experience service problems within one of the 14 Regional Mental Health Centers can file a grievance. Consumers are encouraged to talk with the service provider about the problem. If this fails or is not possible, the consumer can file a formal grievance through the local mental health center. Each center has a grievance procedure that allows consumers to voice their concerns about service problems.
A center representative will give the consumer a grievance form and will offer assistance, if requested, in completing the form. Typically the grievance form will require the consumer's name, information about the problem and suggested remedies. If you are dissatisfied with the decision, there is an internal appeal process at the Community Mental Health Centers.
If a consumer is not satisfied with the final decision of the Mental Health Center, he or she is entitled to file a grievance at the state level. Consumers filing a grievance at this level should call the Medicaid Ombudsman at (800) 372-2973 or (800) 627-4702 (TTY). Usually it is best to think of the Ombudsman as a last resort for help when other approaches have failed.
Health Insurance Parity
If you have a mental illness in the state of Kentucky, you are entitled to certain protections under House Bill 268 enacted in 2000 by the Kentucky General Assembly. If an employer has 50 or more employees and offers mental health benefits, then health insurance plans are not permitted to have different coverage for physical and mental health needs. Copays, lifetime caps, deductibles, outpatient visits, prescription drug coverage, etc. must fall under the same coverage existing under the policy for physically based illnesses.
Protection and Advocacy
Kentucky Protection and Advocacy can provide information and assistance regarding education, mental health, Medicare/Medicaid, guardianship, human rights, assistive technology, and self-advocacy. These rights include consumer protections while hospitalized. To view a complete listing of your rights, please visit the Kentucky Protection and Advocacy website (see Related Links).
Advance Directives for Mental Health Treatment
If you are concerned that you may be subject to involuntary psychiatric commitment or treatment at some future time, you can prepare a legal document in advance to express your choices about treatment. The document is called an "Advance Directive for Mental Health Treatment." Links to more information about advance directives is available in the Related Links, including Kentucky's legislation on this topic (House Bill 99), the NAMI Advance Directive, and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.