Thursday, January 20, 2011

Completely Nuts: Jan Brewer and AZ Lawmakers Look to Further Slash Services for the Mentally Ill

Posted By on Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Paul Rubin and Amy Silverman of the Phoenix New Times examine cutbacks in services for the mentally ill in Arizona:

And in Phoenix, Governor Jan Brewer ended the week by announcing she wants to cut $35.9 million in mental-health services, according to a coalition that includes the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Children's Action Alliance, and Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Alliance.

That's on the heels of massive cutbacks over the past two years. Just last July, an estimated 3,000 seriously mentally ill people in Pima County alone lost almost all their services, including access to non-generic medication and caseworker supervision. Six months earlier, thousands deemed just "generally mentally ill" lost the bulk of their public funding.

But that's nothing compared to the governor's proposal, which, the coalition says, would cut services statewide to as many as 14,600 seriously mentally ill adults and an additional 21,900 adults and children in need of general mental healthcare and substance-abuse treatment.

A mental-healthcare crisis is gripping the nation, to be certain, with funding shortfalls everywhere. But Arizona already has been among the hardest hit, and now, Brewer — who made a name for herself decades ago as a champion of the mentally ill — wants to virtually eliminate services in the state. For some of her healthcare cuts, she'll need permission from Washington to avoid triggering federal cuts in funding, and last Friday, she announced she'll ask for it.

Read the whole depressing story here.

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