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States Mental Health Cuts: The Continuing Crisis

Posted November 10, 2011

Today, the National Alliance on Mental Illness issued a report, State Mental Health Cuts: The Continuing Crisis.  This report documents legislative actions resulting in $1.6 billion in state mental health budget cuts from FY 2009 to FY 2012 nationally. 

Ohio is no exception.  During this same time period, the state’s mental health budget was cut by $26 million.  That’s 5.1 percent.  If you go back to FY 2008, when Ohio’s mental health system sustained one of its biggest cut, the state has lost over $92 million.  While Governor Kasich and the 129th General Assembly added money for Medicaid services in the FY ’12 – ’13 budget, millions of dollars in cuts were made to non-Medicaid services. 

“Non-Medicaid services are equally critical for those who are the most ill,” said Terry Russell, Executive Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio (NAMI Ohio).  “During our budget testimony earlier this year, we implored the members of the General Assembly to prioritize basic, lifesaving services for adults and children with severe and persistent mental illness with the state’s non-Medicaid dollars.  We were told in no uncertain terms that this was a local decision…yet these were state tax dollars we were talking about.  NAMI Ohio agrees that local communities should decide how their local levy funds are directed, but when it comes to state dollars, we believe the state has an obligation to prioritize services to our most ill,” Russell said.

“Needless to say, we continue to hear from families who cannot get their loved ones the type of care and support services they need.  For those who are fortunate enough to have a Medicaid card, they may be able to access some limited services.  If they don’t have a Medicaid card – and 40% of Ohioans with serious mental illness do not – then they are more likely to end up in our emergency rooms, local jails, on the streets or worse, dead.”  Russell said.

The report is available at www.nami.org/budgetcuts.