Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ohio Budget Cuts Mental Health Funding

July 1st was a very important day at the state house in Columbus. It was the day that a balanced state budget had to be passed. As usual, politics got in the way of that and they subsequently passed a 7-day budget as negotiations continued. During week one, the impasse continued, and a second 7-day state budget passed. Negotiations continued....

Since I have been in Boston for the past few days, I've been curious to see what was going to happen to the state budget. When I checked the Columbus Dispatch website yesterday, I was surprised that an agreement was reached. In reading the quotes from the politicians, it was a budget that "no one" was happy with." Then, why did you pass it? That confuses me.

The big winner was not the citizens of Ohio, but the racetracks of Ohio. Yes, the racetracks - and probably the Governor (when is he up for re-election again?) According to the article "Budget Plan, Keeping Score," "The state's seven horse tracks will get up to 2,500 video lottery terminals each and half of the gross profits."

Meanwhile, the mental-health funding of the patients that I treat in this great state of Ohio will be cut (in addition to assisted living/assisted living care while nursing homes and hospitals having to pay "fees")
• Mental-health services: Chopped 34 percent for local, non-Medicaid funding. In addition, funding for mental-health community group homes was slashed 42 percent

• Nursing homes: Will pay $184 million more in fees to the state than they will receive in reimbursements, essentially a 5 percent cut

• Home care/assisted living: Cut $30 million over the biennium, a move that advocates say will create waiting lists of up to 10,000 for PASSPORT and other services aimed at allowing people to remain in their homes or less-restrictive settings than a nursing home

• Hospitals: Will pay $145 million more in franchise fees in the two-year budget period
Thanks politicians in Columbus for standing up for the citizens of Ohio and passing a responsible state budget for the next two years. What's going to happen next? Will I be required to go to those race tracks to gamble so that I can help balance the budget? Probably not. You'll just raise my taxes. Thanks a lot!

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