KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Mental Health System Changes Readied In La., Iowa, Texas

Louisiana, Iowa and Texas are facing major changes to their mental health systems. In other news, college students and inmates often face obstacles in getting mental health treatment.

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Mayor Landrieu Urges State Leaders To Reconsider Mental Health Cuts
A day after state officials announced sharp cuts in local facilities for treating mental health patients, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Saturday released a letter he sent earlier to Gov. Bobby Jindal and LSU System President Dr. John Lombardi. ... Improving access to mental and behavioral health services is an important part of the city's plans to reduce violent crime, so cuts to these services at this time are especially "nonsensical," Landrieu said (Eggler, 2/5). 

Des Moines Register: County Mental Health System Has Many Traveling For Care
Iowa legislators want to change the system, which holds residents' home counties responsible for their mental health care. The system, one of the last of its kind in the country, is rooted in 19th century times, when many people with mental illness or disability lived at county homes. These days, most money for mental health services comes from the federal and state governments instead of from county property taxes. But responsibility and oversight is determined by people's "county of settlement," meaning where they were living when they became ill (Leys, 2/6).

The Dallas Morning News: State May Be Forced to Find Room For Mentally Ill Inmates
The state could be scrambling to make room in medical facilities for hundreds of mentally incompetent prisoners after a judge ordered that they can no longer be housed long-term in county jails. State District Judge Orlinda Naranjo of Austin is expected to soon finalize her ruling, requiring that inmates whose mental illness prohibits them from standing trial be moved to state psychiatric hospitals within 21 days of receiving the order to be committed. The ruling will force the already-underfunded Department of State Health Services to find room and money for these inmates (Ingram, 2/5).

MSNBC: For Mentally Ill Inmates, Health Care Behind Bars If Often Out Of Reach
According to criminal justice experts, many other jails and prisons have struggled to adequately handle mentally ill inmates. Few areas of the country, they say, have the money and resources and staff to handle such a challenging population. "The Supreme Court has established that you have a constitutional right to a basic level of adequate health care, which now includes mental health care," Thomas Hafemeister, an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, told msnbc.com (Chuck, 2/3).

St. Louis Beacon: Mental Health Care On Campus: Need Up, Services Down
More college students are arriving on campus reporting serious mental health problems and more students are threatening suicide than in the past. But some college counseling services, such as those at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, are so understaffed that many students have to wait weeks before getting help. That is one of the findings of a five-month investigation of colleges and universities in four Midwestern states (Freivogel, Houston and Dempsey, 2/5).

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