Routine mental health services were the first to fall during the 2003 budget crisis, which was preceded by pre-session cuts the fall and summer of 2002.
East Texas mental health professionals, judges, law enforcement and elected officials tell us such cuts already have curtailed routine services with demonstrated success keeping patients faithful to their prescription drug regimens. That, in turn, keeps them from falling into the behaviors that land them in jail or emergency rooms where costs are at their highest.
Effectively mandating such inefficient use of resources certainly is not what we consider a conservative approach from state lawmakers. Local officials and agencies, seeing the problem the state has pushed onto them, are cobbling together innovative programs to fill the gap, but they acknowledge problems remain.
So we were pleased to hear Rep.-elect David Simpson, a Longview Republican among 22 freshman GOP legislators voted into office this fall on a tea party platform of smaller government, tell us such programs would be low on his list of targets for further cuts.
“The weak, the poor are the last place to look,” Simpson told the News-Journal’s Glenn Evans. “And we don’t want to just push down the cost. If we cut them back, we’re just pushing it down” to local governments.
Sen. Kevin Eltife, a Tyler Republican, agreed.See prior, related Grits posts:
“We do not need to shove these costs to another level of government,” Eltife told Evans. “At one time, cuts were made to mental health, and (patients) all showed up in emergency rooms.”
Among the local solutions being worked out is a partnership between the courts and an East Texas mental health service center to provide a so-called mental health bond aiming to get those needing care out of jail cells and into treatment programs.
Gregg County is considering a partnership to establish an intermediate care facility to pick up slack for the loss of care at state-financed facilities like Rusk State Hospital.
And a Federally Qualified Health Care program is being established to provide psychiatric care and prescription guidance through a Longview wellness center.
We applaud the efforts of those working together for solutions in Gregg County. And we hope lawmakers in Austin will follow their lead in finding innovative solutions that spread responsibility between the public and private sectors. We think the solution must include an acceptance of all sources of help, from federal funding to local volunteers.
Simply turning a blind eye to problems created by cuts is not acceptable.
- Cuts to state mental hospitals would be massive unfunded mandate for county jails
- Lubbock considers in-house competency restoration for mentally ill defendants
- Mentally ill languish in Bexar jail awaiting assessment, competency restoration
- Cuts to state mental health treatment would shift costs to local jails
- Competency restoration often best performed on outpatient basis
- Cutting state psych hospital budgets could backfire
- Outpatient centers better solutions than jail for competency restoration
- Legislature's underspending on competency restoration beds creates havoc
- Priorities: Mentally incompetent inmates languishing in Texas county jails
- 75-year old mentally incompetent grandmother stranded in Lufkin jail most of 2006
- Legislature should prioritize mental health funding that relieves local jails
- Chincy state hospital funding leaves mentally incompetent defendants stranded
- Unfunded mandate: Counties struggle to pay for mentally incompetent defendants' care
- More counties grumbling at backlog of incompetent defendants in county jails
- When I was sick, did you imprison me?