DHHS dealing with $4.3 million 'accidental' cut to mental health

Posted August 14, 2012

N.C. health, mental health, Medicaid generic

— Lawmakers cut $4.3 million more than they intended from the state's mental health safety net program this summer, officials with the Department of Health and Human Services told the legislature Tuesday.

The cut, which amounts to roughly 1 percent of state spending on mental health, affects the money available to local mental health agencies to provide services such as guardianship for those with developmental disabilities.

The General Assembly is out of session and can't fix the problem by appropriating more money or making other changes. However, DHHS Secretary Al Delia asked the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services for informal permission to fix the problem by shifting money around in the department's budget.

"Fix it, yes," said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake. 

Other lawmakers were less sanguine. 

"You're telling me that for 45 days you've not been able to distribute that money?" asked Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union. "Have we eliminated those services?"

Delia and his staff said local mental health agencies had thus far picked up the slack but need money from the state if they are to continue providing the services in question.

"That's why our conversation this morning was so important," Delia said.

The cut happened because of confusion over which line in the budget should have been used to account for it. The error was spotted late in the legislative session, but by then, it was too late for lawmakers to fix it.

“The Arc of North Carolina appreciates the hard work and advocacy of Governor Perdue, Secretary Delia and the leadership of the House and Senate in realizing the serious nature of this additional 4.3 million dollar cut and the need to fix this as quickly as possible to ensure the continuation of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities," said Julia Adams. Assistant Director of Government Relations for the ARC of North Carolina. The ARC advocates on behalf of those with developmental disabilities.


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  • driverkid3 Aug 15, 2012

    @ teleman60 for:::Remember the GOP leaders are not responsible for any of this?!?!

    From what I read in the story, it's the republicans trying to get this mess straightened out. But of course, the dims won't see that and if they do, it will be time to dance away and deflect.

  • 82d Airborne Aug 15, 2012

    Well what a mess... Fix it and move on! For those that feel the "taxpayer" is being fleeced, I tell you to hold that thought for when someone in your family is stricken with mental disease, think about the rise in bi-polar disorders and the fact that a high percentage of us end up with alzheimers, just because one has those mental issues does not mean that all that was done by that person in the past should be forgotten, most of these folks were tax payers and have fulfilled their quota with FICA and the rest of the money grabbers, we as a society have to remember that many have paid their dues and deserve to be taken care of by us the "taxpayer", don't let your feelings of not being rich deter you from being human(e) to your fellow man!
    On the flip side if someone is caught fleecing the system they should be held accountable, let's just be careful of what is said because it may come back to haunt you later! No I'm not "saving the universe" I am thinking of my family members and fr

  • muggs Aug 14, 2012

    We cannot save the universe, when will people get that through their heads. It seems to me that the ones that scream the loudest are the same that pay the least. So many think that the government owes it to them and should pay for what they cannot, wrong again, the government owes the taxpayers the service of providing competent handling of the funds they receive in taxes and revenues, limit the services, we are bankrupt from all these free programs.

  • tayled Aug 14, 2012

    Gov. Perdue should insist that the legislature come back to town to fix this problem ASAP. They made the "error" and they should be called upon to fix it now. If any of us made an error on our jobs and we refused to correct it, how long would we have our jobs?

  • muggs Aug 14, 2012

    We have allowed advocates, lobbyist and special interest groups take control of those who should be in control. I believe we will enter deeper into a state of economic disastor, the bottom has not been hit yet. With media propaganda and corrupt politicians there is no end in sight for recovery, withholding taxes until the end of the year instead of paying quarterly or weekly would be the only way to wake this country up, without those steady payments being made the government would be forced to stop all these handouts, we all have to pay but when is up to us.

  • bljnnc2004 Aug 14, 2012

    accidental? I think not. Didnt somebody have to vote on that budget?

  • skeeter II Aug 14, 2012

    Many of the people and organizations that are critizing DHHS for the Mental Health situation are the same people and organizations that advocated for the change from institution care to care nearly the patients home.

    What has not happened is that the health organizations that were supposed to provide the care closer to the patient's home have not or could not gearup and provide the care. Originally local organizations had professional staff to handle the patients but under the earlier plan they had to get rid of their professional staff and begin "managing" mental health care. The professional staff were asked to setup offices and have patients referred to them for treatment. Economically, they could not make a living in certain parts of the state, and thus left those areas -- LESS PROFESSIONAL STAFF ABLE TO TREAT THE PATIENTS!

  • muggs Aug 14, 2012

    This government administration is like a dog chasing it's own tail, sooner or later it will collapse from the failure to do so. We have a real mess and the government has no interest in solving the problem, they are more concerned with the other countries and their own personal agenda, tax payers being used and there is nothing that can be done, it is almost sad to see what has become of this country, and for the first time in my life I am ashamed for it.

  • muggs Aug 14, 2012

    Many Americans have lost their voice in what goes on in this country, many let the government dictate what goes on since they are the recipients of the free programs provided by the tax dollars of the same Americans that have lost their voice, hope that makes sense.

  • oleguy Aug 14, 2012

    Its time to take control,,, Our Govt, is too big,,, we got to make some big deep cuts in spending,, A lot of this funding has been taken for granted for too long,,,Why would anybody want a job when the Govt will send a check for doing nothing,,,