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Private mental health providers contend that the MHMRs and their advocates have successfully obstructed the law through a series of political and bureaucratic maneuvers.
Last year - after finally being forced to do so - the MHMRs put contracts out to bid but made them so cheap and restrictive that no private provider could bid on them with any hope of making a profit, two executives at interested companies say.
The MHMRs also have thwarted private competition by issuing requests for proposals that private providers could not possibly accept, says Richard Wallace, state executive director for Providence Services of Texas.
Wallace believes the MHMRs simply do not have the capacity or the desire to convert themselves to managers rather than providers of care.
Truitt, the biggest legislative champion of the MHMRs, is a Republican who calls herself a champion of the free market, but she finds herself, in this case, defending local governmental control of a safety-net system that she believes the free market cannot adequately replace.
The question of money, or the lack of it, may underlie almost all of the dysfunction between public and private providers, advocates for the MHMRs believe.
Danette Castle, the CEO of the Texas Council of Community MHMR Centers, the lobbying group for local authorities, says she ordinarily has a similar free-market bent.