KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Budget Cuts Take Toll On Mental Health Services

An analysis by the National Alliance on Mental Illness concluded that 32 states and Washington, D.C., have reduced funding for mental health programs.

The Associated Press: State Budget Cuts Decimate Mental Health Services
State budget writers looking for cash to balance the books have stripped a cumulative $1.8 billion from mental health services over the last 2 1/2 years, putting the public at risk as the mentally ill crowd emergency rooms and prisons, according to the nation's largest mental health advocacy group (Wyatt, 3/9).

Kaiser Health News: In days following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, there was close scrutiny of the inadequacies of the nation's mental health system. Worrying that the spotlight has already faded, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a grassroots advocacy group examined recent state budget cuts and found that from 2009-2011, states cut $1.8 billion or about 8 percent, from their total state mental health budgets. That's compromising an already frayed system, according to a new report from NAMI (Gold, 3/9).
 
MinnPost: Advocates Rally At Capitol To Keep Needed Mental Health Services
Hundreds of mental health advocates covering three stories rallied in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday urging that Minnesota's $5 billion budget deficit be fixed without gutting services for the mentally ill. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, among a dozen other speakers, made the case for a "balanced approach" to solving the state's shortfall that would include tax increases on Minnesota's highest earners. By increasing revenue, he said, some of the cuts Republicans are expected to propose in the coming weeks could be avoided (Nord, 3/8).

The Kansas City Star: State Budget Cuts Worry Advocates Who Deal With Mental Illnesses
At a time when economic distress and war have increased the need for mental treatment, experts say, budget cuts are bringing a fragile mental health system to its knees. Kansas is among the top 10 states in such cuts, a national study reported today. … Since 2009, it found, about two-thirds of states have cut a total of more than $1.8 billion in key mental health spending. Kansas has cut almost $19 million, or about 16 percent of money for mental health care for the uninsured or those not covered by Medicaid (Lambe, 3/9).

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