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There are no easy fixes

Monday, Apr 30, 2012

* The trouble with cutting programs like Medicaid is that those cuts can cause other, even costlier problems. For instance

The governor has called for the closure of Tinley Park Mental Health Center, which currently is budgeted to hold 75 residents. It currently employs 195 workers and has an annual budget of $19.8 million.

He also wants to close Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford, putting 145 people out of work and shuttering bed space for 76 residents. It costs about $14 million to operate the facility.

His budget also calls for cutting community mental health programs by $58.4 million.

Quinn’s Medicaid overhaul, designed to save a total of $2.7 billion, would place a moratorium on admissions to intermediate care facilities. The proposal, which would affect people with mental illnesses, would impact about 14,900 admissions in order to save $114 million.

The Medicaid cuts also would place a moratorium on admissions to a mental disease program impacting about 1,800 people. It would save about $36 million.

All that amounts to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars being diverted away from mental health programs and infrastructure. Lawmakers are trying to wrap up their action on the budget by May 31.

Christopher Larrison, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, said the proposed reductions will likely result in more people seeking treatment in emergency rooms and more mentally ill people being arrested and jailed. Neither place, he said, is an appropriate setting — medically or financially — for someone needing treatment for a mental illness.

Like I told subscribers this morning, anybody who tells you that fixing things is easy has probably never fixed anything.

* Related…

* Questions face Quinn on cigarette tax hike

* Nursing home residents rally against Medicaid cuts

* Illinois Lawmakers On Taxes: Reality Is Catching Up

* Tom Loewy: ‘Entitlement mentality’ runs counter to the facts: But residents of Knox County shouldn’t tolerate a politician who walks into our midst and spouts off about an “entitlement mentality” when our friends and neighbors are struggling to find affordable medical care for their children. We should never tolerate a politician who tries to pit “us” against “them” when we are all citizens of the same state, faced with the same crushing economic uncertainties as those who live in other ZIP codes. Sorry, but that kind of attitude never made our country great.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:01 am:

    The dismal tide rolls on.

  2. - Blago's Hare - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:09 am:

    I agree that Loewy should not pit one group against another. I also find it deplorable when the O’s do it too. Obama and Occupy.

  3. - cermak_rd - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:05 pm:

    On the other hand, people with mental illness should not necessarily be locked up in these state treatment centers, either. Certainly not with a 3 to 1 employee to resident overhead. I don’t know what the optimal solution for the mentally ill, one that both keeps them safe and that is least restrictive, looks like, but this problem has been existent since the 1970s when we decided that just locking mentally ill folks away was not the answer.

  4. - Freeman - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:25 pm:

    Illinoisans realize it is time to take some bitter medicine.

    The Governor, however, insults public intelligence by claiming his proposal protects the weak and vulnerable among us. We’re on the 4th or 5th version of a patient transition “plan” in some cases, and that’s only because COGFA is forcing him to come up with something more humane than “close it down and damn the torpedoes”.

    Close these facilities? Okay. Slash funding (over 40% in some instances) for these community support programs? Okay.

    Close facilities while slashing funding to the very community programs you’re relying on to pick up the slack? Problem.

    Erickson does a good job of pointing out some of the many legitimate concerns regarding the Governor’s apparent lack of a long-term plan.

  5. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    ” budgeted to hold 75 residents” 195 workers?

    That’s one heck of a staff to patient ratio

  6. - Budget Watcher - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:04 pm:


    You realize these workers are employed for 8 hr shifts while the residents are there for 24 hrs.

  7. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 2:15 pm:

    That works out not far from a 1:1 ratio. Don’t think private facilities staff so high.

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 4:36 pm:

    Cutting community mental health programs is…mindless budget-slashing.

    We should be preventing mental illness and providing appropriate treatment options, not shepharding them into emergency rooms and jails, which are much, much more expensive.

    This falls solidly into the definition of “penny wise, pound foolish.”

    As for the state facility closures, advocates are correct to argue that cost-benefit analysis ought to include and produce funding for more cost-effective services. I’m a big fan of community-based treatment alternatives, but we were snookered in the 80’s when the big state mental hospitals were closed and we were told the savings would be used to fund public mental health services.

  9. - cermak_rd - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 5:14 pm:

    Short of preventing folks from using mind altering substances (already illegal) and making sure toxins in the environment are managed (already under the EPA) how exactly does one prevent mental illness? I was under the impression it was mostly (with the exceptions of environmental toxins/drugs) genetic.

  10. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 8:10 pm:

    Cermak: You are correct. MI is no different than any other biological illness.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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