Archive for Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mental health cuts lead to 200 layoffs in Kansas, raise treatment concerns

August 7, 2016


Wichita — Funding cuts to mental health services in Kansas have spawned layoffs at some of the state’s 26 health centers, many of them positions that help families in crisis manage day-to-day care, mental health advocates say.

There’s a $30 million budget hole for mental health for the current fiscal year, the Association of Community Mental Health Centers said last month — a figure that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services does not dispute. In a sector that never saw its pre-Recession state funding restored, the new program cuts — which are expected to result in an estimated loss of 200 positions, association director Kyle Kessler said — are drawing warnings of more hospital admissions, emergency room visits and interactions with law enforcement.

“It leaves you vulnerable to being arrested again or back to the hospital or dead,” said Rick Cagan, executive director of the Kansas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “I don’t mean to be dramatic, but this does happen.”

Without the state’s cash, some communities, and even recovering patients, are stepping up to do what they can to help, knowing that nationwide as many as one in 10 children will have a serious mental health issue and one in four adults will experience a mental health disorder in any given year.

“This will be studied over time,” Kessler said. “And people will be looking at Kansas as a cautionary tale about what happens when you reduce funding for mental health.”

The latest cuts include ending a health homes program, which monitored a person’s physical and behavioral health and made sure patients were going to their appointments and taking their medications. Kessler described the program as “next-generation stuff ... like losing your future.” Also eliminated was a Medicaid mental-health screening program that had aimed to keep people out of mental hospitals by diverting them to community-based outpatient services.

Another blow came with the state’s 4 percent Medicaid provider reimbursement rate reduction, as Kessler put it, “like losing the present because that is taking away services where physicians help people right now.

Mental health services in Kansas took an “enormous hit” back in 2008 and 2009 when they were cut by more than 50 percent, said Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for the state’s aging and disability department. While the state has boosted money in subsequent years, she said, mental health funding has never recovered fully.

“It continues to be a challenge and we are working with all our partners to address it,” de Rocha said, noting the state has a “Continuity of Care” committee which meets regularly to look for solutions.

To cover the gap in coverage, people and communities are doing what they can. Thirteen cities are participating in the Johnson County Mental Health Center’s co-responder program, meaning mental health staff are on call to assist police when they come into contact with someone with mental illness.

Manhattan wants to do something similar, with the Manhattan City Commission and Riley County Law Board funding two co-responders to work with the Riley County Police Departments and Pawnee Mental Health starting next year.

“Families are frustrated and in tears because we do not have services necessary to take care of their loved ones,” said Manhattan Mayor Usha Reddi, who is also an elementary school teacher and NAMI board member. “It is becoming extremely difficult to keep or recruit staff to work with our neediest population. I see the impact in our schools.

“Our social workers are exhausted and the needs are immense.”

Christine Thompson was once diagnosed as bipolar; she is now in recovery and is the president of Manhattan-based Morning Star, which provides peer-support services for things like substance abuse and diabetics.

The group is now trying to get Medicaid certification for peer support services, and pursuing the possibility of developing a “respite center” which would provide a home environment where people can stay for a few days where they can manage their symptoms and divert them from getting into a mental health crisis.

“It is going to be a drop in the bucket, but hopefully we will be able to implement some of these measures,” Thompson said.

Even before the latest cuts, some walk-in health center patients have had to wait weeks before they could get a medical appointment to see a psychiatrist or other provider, Kessler said.

“There have been piecemeal attempts to patch things here and there, but we really have a system in great disrepair,” Cagan said. “And the thing about it is that individuals with serious health conditions are not going away, they don’t disappear ... They are going to show up somewhere as somebody else’s headache or they are going to end up being a danger to themselves or others.”


Michael Kort 1 year, 9 months ago

We all know that It is not guns that kill is crazy people,... who kill people........Right ?..........So,.........let's cut funding for mental health care in Ks. ..........and that makes great sense to Republicans, who want to get government out of your life ! ! ! .........and crazy people with guns,......into it, in Ks.!

The Republican Party has been taken over by a "parasitic leadership of stealth libertarians" and if you vote for the Republicans,...... you get what you deserve !......and others will suffer as well with you .

Of course, we all know that this is really Obamas fault ?.........because the Republican leadership is under Obamas' ......PSYCIC CONTROL....because he's a Washngton Insider who runs Ks. ! ! !

Yep, you are safe from Washingtons reach but held firmly in the grip of a Statehouse that is full of the Republicanly Insane !

Bob Smith 1 year, 9 months ago

Your period key is sticking a lot recently. Might want ..... to get ..... somebody .... to ... look into ...... that.....................................

Greg Cooper 1 year, 9 months ago

And you added... what... to this thread?

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

His customary backward ignorance. By now we should expect it.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 9 months ago

"...speech characterized by quick, witty replies." Wikipedia

Neither quick (nearly a day later) nor witty, your comment added nothing.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 9 months ago

My "period" control works well.

In the national frenzy about mental health issues, Kansas will lead the way in ignoring the problems. The Republican soaked government with Koch Industries Regime robots is clearly ignorant and dismissive of the needs of mental health issues. The popularity of Donald Trump is a bold indicator of the stupidity, ignorance and misconduct of the Kansas legislature.

With all the discussions currently underway about the stupidity of everyone needing to have a gun due to the blatant mis-reading of the Second Amendment (IT SAYS A "WELL-REGULATED MILITIA") at a time where there was NO NATONAL DEFENSE FORCE (army, navy, air force, coast guard, marine corps) it is CRYSTAL CLEAR that the wording was indicative of such needs, not the need for every damned fool to own a military style killing machine. So mental health gets the brunt of the needs. Geeeeezzz!

Clara Westphal 1 year, 9 months ago

The cuts are being made in the wrong places.

Larry Sturm 1 year, 9 months ago

Brownback and the GOP legislature need to be incarcerated in a mental hospital and they know so much about mental health that they could take care of the other patients there.

Michael Kort 1 year, 9 months ago

Well, the republicans like people with business Trump......the 3 time bankrupt.....and business owner of a bogus real estate school where the enrolled are fed predatory pitches to suck them dry of extra tuition money.....the business of scamming !

Since 50% of all new businesses go bankrupt, that should keep the Republican Party with plenty of candidates looking for work and in the business of fooling the public forever !

Look who runs the Ks Ways and Means Committee.......another republican business bankrupt !

Any wonder that Kansas is upside down in its' republican run financial operations ?

This is republican business expertise ! ? they are experts at doing con jobs on the public with all of their so called business experts and right wing religious loonies who belong in either a nut house or the Middle East where they can force their values onto others thru religious wars of conquest .

Kate Rogge 1 year, 9 months ago

First you break the state agency, and then you sell it off to a private company that will make a profit providing poor service.

Bob Smith 1 year, 9 months ago

Considering how may people still support Hillary, I'd say there is a great need for mental health services in Kansas.

Greg DiVilbiss 1 year, 9 months ago

This is outrageous, the cost of not caring for the mentally ill is probably higher then providing services.

This is not acceptable in any way and the people making the cuts should be ashamed of themselves. The mentally ill in many cases do not have the ability to fight for themselves, so it is up to us to do it for them.

Shame, Shame, Shame....

Let's see a list of the people who voted to cut mental health services!

Dave Wray 1 year, 9 months ago

Govt will never cure or improve a person's mental state. Cut the whole thing out.

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