KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Arizona’s Mental Health Budget Cuts Concern Experts

Short-term savings could have long-term consequences for patients and the community, mental health experts tell The Arizona Republic. Meanwhile, a county in Iowa gets state aid to help people on a waiting list for mental health and disability care.

The Arizona Republic: Mental-Health Cuts: Experts Fear Long-Term Costs
Arizona taxpayers are providing fewer services to fewer people with serious mental illnesses than they were last year, for annual savings of roughly $50 million. But the short-term savings from state budget cuts threaten to have long-term consequences for patients, providers and the community, mental-health experts say. The budget reductions eliminated services for about 12,000 Arizonans who don't qualify for Medicaid, removing the foundation of a system intended to keep the seriously mentally ill healthy and out of emergency rooms, hospitals, jails and prisons (Reinhart, 9/22).

Des Moines Register: Polk To Use State Aid To Cut Mental Health Waiting List
Nearly $8 million in state aid will allow Polk County officials to remove about 750 people from a waiting list for mental health and disability care. County supervisors this week approved a budget amendment to allow use of $7.7 million from a state "risk pool," a program created about a decade ago to keep counties with financial shortfalls from denying care to people with mental disorders or retardation. The roughly 750 people who were on the waiting list were believed to be the most ever. Those on the waiting list face higher rates of homelessness, incarceration and hospitalization, according to county estimates in recent years (Pulliam, 9/22).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colorado news site): Treating Mental Health Woes Could Save Billions
National leaders will be watching an ambitious experiment beginning at 11 sites across Colorado that aims to revolutionize and integrate long-separated primary care and mental health. As the economy continues to falter while health costs climb, Colorado alone could save an estimated $3 billion a year by giving integrated behavioral and medical care to people with complex illnesses (Kerwin McCrimmon, 9/21).

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