Mental health patients could lose services - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Mental health patients could lose services

Recent cuts in medicaid and a proposed five percent budget cut in mental health services could adversely affect the care patients receive.

New standards and procedures in medicaid were implemented by the Division of Medicaid at the first of year. These changes are expected to have a dramatic impact on the services community mental health organizations can provide.

One of the areas affected the most are community based services that involve case management.

"Those services are at a risk of being greatly reduced because of the way we have the inability to build in a reduction of the rate so the services may not be viable," said Jerry Mayo, Executive Director, Pine Belt Mental Health Services.

Mayo says those services are critical for keeping individuals in their homes, in their community, on their medications and compliant with their program so they can achieve their full potential.

Other supportive services will also be affected and will be subject to a prior authorization which means the Division of Medicaid will have to approve the individuals for the service.

"According to their own estimates they intend to exclude 50% of the people that we are currently serving in these programs," said Mayo.

Not only do the community mental health centers have to deal with the changes in medicaid, but now they and state institutions are about to take a five percent cut in funding from the legislature. According to Robert Landrum, Chairman of the State Mental Health Board, this will further impact the facilities ability to care for the patients.

"These instances of seeing mentally ill people on the street in your community, whether it be rural or in a town are going to be more frequent," said Landrum. "For some reason our state thinks the Department of Mental Health has got a lot of money and they are going to get it."

Some say the changes to medicaid and budget cuts are way to save money, but Mayo said it won't and instead will put the burden on local economies.

"When you take people out of local programs they are going to be in more of a crisis mode," said Mayo. "They will end up being more involved with local economy government which will be all local tax dollars or the Department of Health which is state tax dollars."

Mayo added that he anticipated a lot of children being served in the schools will be eliminated from programs which will force schools to seek local and county funds to provide the services.

Copyright 2012 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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