The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

The sky really is falling

There are stories about the budget cutting that is happening right now all across the nation.  This is just one, but this article really lays out the monetary and societal consequences of cutting mental health services in such a way that we all can see the insanity of these cuts.  Mental health has always been the “step-child” when it comes to funding but what I don’t understand is this pervasive thinking that by ignoring and cutting funding for these programs all these consumers will simply vanish.

Mental health and mental illness are simply a part of life.  It’s really down to the wire now.  We have to accept that we will have to help some people because the cost of not doing so is too much to bear.  Does no one see the need to help and support this population?  These are real people with real illnesses who cannot take care of themselves so they become the victims of our society.

Please read this article entirely.  You will need to click over to the original site to finish reading, but I promise the information you will find is worth the action.  I personally have to applaud the associate editors of the Tulsa World for a well-written and well-researched article that states the facts very simply.

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Health care, mental health systems unraveling under budget cuts

by: JULIE DELCOUR & JANET PEARSON Associate Editors
Sunday, May 02, 2010
5/2/2010 5:48:55 AM

Rep. Doug Cox, thanks to his dual roles as an emergency room physician and a state House member, has a pretty good grasp of what lies ahead for the state’s health care infrastructure.

“I’m worried we’re going to see a collapse in the health care safety net,” the Grove Republican said in a recent interview.

Mike Brose, director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, also has a keen sense of what’s in store. “We’re petrified. All we’ve built and done is unraveling before our eyes. … We’re basically looking at the catastrophic unraveling of the mental health infrastructure.”

Hyperbole about the consequences is not out of the question when budget cuts are anticipated. In the news business, we call it the Washington Monument Syndrome. What happens is revenues dwindle, budgets face shrinkage, and some bureaucrats announce that the only solution is to shut down the Washington Monument. That tends to get people’s attention and the revenue problems miraculously get resolved.

That’s not at all what’s happening in Oklahoma these days. In fact, hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives literally are at stake, as is the fragile health care delivery system that has just recently made notable, necessary strides.

Razor-thin margins

“The way it’s going to play out is this: The first thing that’s going to go down is nursing homes, because they operate on such a razor-thin margin,” said Cox, who is chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee on public health.

“The second thing will be doctors will start refusing to see Medicaid patients,” he continued. Anticipated double-digit cuts in Medicaid reimbursements will make it economically unfeasible for many physicians to continue to treat Medicaid patients.

What will follow will be a “snowball” effect, explained Cox: a slow but sure collapse of segments of the state’s entire health care delivery system, one after another, brought about by their inter-relationships with each other and with funding sources.

There’s even been talk among state health care leaders of doing away with the state Medicaid system, which taps federal and state sources to provide health care and mental health services to needy seniors, children, pregnant women and blind and disabled Oklahomans.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority already has had to make significant cuts in services over the past fiscal year and now is looking at even greater cuts. Cox explained that if the agency cuts out all optional services, it still would be necessary to enact severe cuts elsewhere.

And what’s optional in the view of the federal government may be life-saving for some: Optional Medicaid…

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May 2, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

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