Cuts to Mental Health Block Grant Program Could Wipe out Progress in Wisconsin

Trump’s budget proposal for the Mental Health Block Grant program calls for a cut of about 25 percent.  Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services has been instructed to assume that it will receive $2.3 million less than it received the previous fiscal year.  DHS will submit its budget this week.

Wisconsin Health News interviewed advocates and providers of mental health services to gain an idea of the impact of the cuts.  Here are excerpts from those comments:

Barbara Beckert, Milwaukee Office director for Disability Rights Wisconsin, said that the grant had played a key role in increasing access to community services and decreasing reliance on crisis and inpatient care.  She mentioned employment opportunities for people with mental illness and early interventions for at-risk children.

Mental Health America would lose $125,000 from its suicide prevention program.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness Wisconsin could lose $52,000 or one staff member.  Family Ties of Wisconsin, which provides peer support to parents, could lose about $58,000.

Other cuts include:  access to mental health services for people who are homeless; training for providers and efforts to reduce inpatient readmissions;

The federal House of Representatives has approved the cuts.  Wisconsin’s Senator Tammy Baldwin sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has yet to approve the cuts.







Four Alders Support a Crisis/Restoration Center

Alds. Cheeks, Phair, Eskrich and Clear announced interest in a crisis/restoration center at a press conference on Monday.  Click here to read Dean Mosiman’s account in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Here is the excerpt from the article:

“[Madison]  should work with Dane County and others to explore a Restoration Center, which would be an alternative for individuals who otherwise would be arrested or taken to the hospital because of behavior, intoxication and/or mental health problems.

The latter effort, based on a facility in San Antonio, could be funded by local governments, Medicaid, health insurers, private sponsors and other sources, Phair said.”

MOSES, an interfaith organization, has advocated for a crisis center for more than two years.  The League of Women Voters of Dane County testified in favor of such a center at a recent committee meeting of the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

Read “Funding Mental Health Services Can Pay off for the Taxpayers, as well as the Beneficiaries” on this blog for more information about how a center would operate and be funded.

Cheeks and Phair scheduled budget listening sessions in their districts for Wednesday, Sept. 6, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Meadowridge Library, 5726 Raymond Rd; and Saturday, Sept. 9, 10 to 12 a.m. at the Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd.

Click here to read an article from Cap Times about the press conference.





Parity Regulations in AHCA Give Boost to Mental Health Services

An article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows how an entrepreneurial approach can   produce a healthy bottom line and increased access to mental health services.  Click here to read “Rising need for mental health care spurs growth in Rogers Behavioral Health System.”

Rogers Behavioral Health System provides care to more than 11,000 people a year, including more than 10,000 in the Milwaukee area.  In the past five years, the system’s revenue has doubled.  It is continuing to expand its services and geographic reach.

Here are key excerpts from the article by Guy Boulton.

“Its recent growth stems partly from changes in federal laws that require health insurers to provide the same benefits for behavioral health as for other medical care.

It also is driven by the increasing acceptance that behavioral health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder, are no different than other medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.

That has helped lessen the stigma long associated with mental illness, resulting in more people seeking treatment. More effective treatments also have contributed to the increase in demand for behavioral health care.”

Although Rogers Behavioral Health had been criticized for treating few patients covered by Medicaid, about one-third of its patients now are funded through Medicaid.   It also helps fill the urgent need for in-patient psychiatric beds.   An average of 500 patients a year are sent to the system when Milwaukee County’s hospital is at capacity.