The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Two articles about the budget and its effect on mental health care

Mark Dayton

Image by grassroots solutions via Flickr

Today, I am posting two very different articles.  The first is from the NAMI Executive Director in Minnesota about the fight to maintain services for the vulnerable, mentally ill in  Minnesota.  I repost this here from the Winona Daily News.

The second article is from The New York Times.  This article is about the shut-down of the Minnesota government due to political stalemate.

Please take the time to read both articles, as both are pertinent to the plight of the mentally ill in our nation.  After reading them, won’t you also leave me a comment here?

This issue is one that our national government is about to take on and ultimately will affect each and every American residing in the continental United States of America.  This issue is huge and growing daily.  Please be informed and vocal about your desires to your congressmen and women.  This is not the time for party politics.  This about taking care of all Americans alike.

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SUE ABDERHOLDEN: Mental health cuts cost state money 

By SUE ABDERHOLDEN | Executive director, NAMI Minnesota winonadailynews.com |

Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/opinion/article_b0710f1c-963f-11e0-8375-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1Qs49a6d2

Legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton are trying to reach a deal to avoid a government shut-down.

For people in the mental health community – children and adults who live with a mental illness, family members and providers – their decisions will have a huge impact.

The omnibus health and human services bill that was vetoed by the governor contains huge cuts to mental health grants – some were cut as much as 50 percent.

During the past few years we’ve seen how these services keep people out of the hospital and save money.

Negative changes were also proposed to key Minnesota health care programs such as MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance that help people with mental illnesses obtain needed treatment and medications.

A government shutdown presents huge problems to providers who

are already facing a payment delay for the month of June thanks to legislation passed last year, and if a shutdown occurs some might close their doors due to serious cash flow issues. Nearly everyone knows someone who has a mental illness. Is denying access to care and dismantling the mental health system truly the road we want to take?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness asks legislative leaders to recognize the needs of people with mental illnesses and support revenue increases. It’s not only the right thing to do, it will save us money in the long run.

Read more: http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/opinion/article_b0710f1c-963f-11e0-8375-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1Qs555Nmk
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Budget Fight Shuts Down Minnesota Government

By

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota began what is expected to become the broadest shutdown of state services in its history on Friday, after Republicans and Democrats here failed to agree on how to solve the state’s budget woes in time for the new fiscal year.

And so, as the holiday weekend opened, residents and visitors were finding the state’s parks, historical sites and the Minnesota Zoo closed, new hunting and fishing licenses unavailable, and the state lottery and racetracks shuttered. Most rest areas along highways were closed. Tens of thousands of state employees were being sent home without pay, and contractors were told to walk away from hundreds of road construction projects already under way during Minnesota’s often brief summer building season.

Since early this year, politicians in St. Paul have been locked in a battle over how to solve an expected $5 billion budget deficit under a divided government. Republicans, who took control of both chambers of the Legislature after last year’s elections for the first time in almost four decades, called for limiting spending to the $34 billion that the state expected to take in over the next two years. But Gov. Mark Dayton, who was also elected in 2010, becoming the state’s first Democratic governor in 20 years, called for collecting more in income taxes from the very highest earners to spare cuts in services to Minnesota’s most vulnerable residents.

While intense, private negotiations went on, day after day, as the July 1 deadline approached, it seemed that the argument never really shifted much at all.

“This is a night of deep sorrow for me because I don’t want to see this shutdown occur,” Mr. Dayton told reporters shortly before midnight on Thursday, after a long, especially hot day of on-and-off negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans. “But I think there are basic principles and the well-being of millions of people in Minnesota that would be damaged not just for the next week or whatever long it takes, but the next two years and beyond with these kind of permanent cuts in personal care attendants and home health services and college tuition increases.”

Late into the night, both sides sought to sway public opinion on the shutdown, even as hundreds of protesters demanding a solution to the impasse gathered outside the Capitol. Republican lawmakers, describing themselves as discouraged and disheartened, held what some described as a “sit-in” in their chambers urging the governor to call a special session so some state services might be temporarily kept running, even if negotiations took a bit longer.

Still, the philosophical rift — between holding the line on spending and raising taxes to maintain services for those most in need — seemed only to grow. And both sides pointed to the results of the 2010 election as evidence that voters had demanded their particular approach.

“We’re talking about runaway spending that we can’t afford,” Kurt Zellers, the Republican House speaker, said late Thursday of Mr. Dayton’s ideas. “And we will not saddle our children and grandchildren with mounds of debts with promises for funding levels that will not be there in the future.”

Amy Koch, the Republican Senate majority leader, defended the Republicans’ hold-the-line plans. “This was a balanced budget that did not raise taxes,” she said. “It was good for Minnesota. It was good for Minnesota taxpayers, and it was what the people asked us for way back in November when they elected us in overwhelming historic majorities to the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate.”

Under Mr. Dayton’s plan — which he laid out during last fall’s campaign in what some saw then as a politically risky move — the top earners in the state would be asked to pay more in income tax.

“I cannot accept a Minnesota where elderly widows are denied the at-home services that permit them to remain healthy and able to live in their own homes or a Minnesota where local governments have to further slash their firefighters and police forces or a Minnesota where special education is being cut so that millionaires do not have to pay one more dollar in taxes,” said Mr. Dayton, who is a former United States senator and an heir to department stores founded by his family. “That is not Minnesota.”

Numerous states’ new budget years began on Friday, but Minnesota now finds itself in an unwanted spot: the rare state in shutdown, a prospect certain to bring political fallout even as state lawmakers face elections next year.

The only other such budget standoff in Minnesota history came in 2005 under an entirely different set of leaders, including Tim Pawlenty, a former governor who is now seeking the Republican nomination for president. But it involved the shutdown of far fewer services and lasted a matter of days.

That impasse ended after both sides agreed to a new fee for cigarettes. But observers here on Friday said they had trouble envisioning a way that this standoff, in which both sides seem dug in and the size of the financial gap is large, will similarly melt away.

“It’s a very sad day for Minnesota,” said Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, which will not close. “It’s a state that had a well-earned reputation for being well governed, where, at the end of the day, politics were done in a fair and efficient manner. And it’s now on the cusp of ungovernability. There’s a new ethic here that compromise is weakness.”

The list of state services singled out for closing is long: all sorts of state offices, including licensing agencies and dispatchers in the Twin Cities who monitor traffic jams and accidents and try to keep rush hours moving along. More than 20,000 state employees were expected to be out of work. Certain crucial services will stay open, such as state patrol work, prison operations, courts, and schools.

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July 1, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

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