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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Vital Plan mental health services manager’s hiring practices said in violation of contract

Puerto Rican Psychology Alliance President David Alcalá Pérez

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rican Psychology Alliance President David Alcalá Pérez charged on Tuesday that the Health Services Administration (ASES by its Spanish acronym) and its administrator, Edna Marín, are ignoring the fact that APS Healthcare refuses to hire psychologists with a master’s degree to provide mental health services to Vital Plan beneficiaries.

Such conduct, Alcalá Pérez says, violates the contract provisions that APS manages and that ASES must monitor and enforce.

“The contract administered by APS allows hiring psychologists with a master’s degree duly certified by the Psychologists Regulatory Board,” Alcalá Pérez said in a written statement. “However, APS only hires psychologists with PhDs, in open violation of the current contract. This dramatically limits the population’s access to mental health services.”

Alcalá Pérez added that the Marín is aware of this situation and has not taken action. He also pointed out that although Marín publicly reiterated on more than one occasion during 2022 that the Vital Plan provider network was open and available to any skilled and certified health service supplier, it was not until February 2023 that the process began for the recruitment of mental health service providers.

Alcalá Pérez noted that last December a report from ASES itself came to light, dated May 2022 and that had not been disclosed, which makes severe accusations against APS. The report states that APS and its service through the Vital Plan have “clear areas of concern.” It also revealed that some 15 island municipalities do not have psychologists, and another 32 do not have psychiatrists.

“I call on Edna Marín to express herself publicly and explain why she allows APS to violate the provisions of the current contract to the detriment of the mental health of our people,” Alcalá Pérez said.

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