Local News

Mental Health Cuts Concern Service Providers

Posted April 12, 2007 8:32 p.m. EDT

— Scott Myrto works to help families help themselves.

For a year and a half he has worked with single mother Deanna Lowden and her 13-year-old son. The teen has struggled with extreme anger and violence issues that took him away from his family.

Myrto's intervention achieved the ultimate goal of mental health reform. It kept the boy with his mother.

Mental health advocates say those kinds of success stories might end if the state continues with a 33 percent rate cut for service providers. They say it defeats the purpose of transitioning patients out of state facilities into the community if businesses can't afford to help.

“If this cut were to hold as it was originally proposed, it would be devastating to the mental health system,” said John Tote, with the Mental Health Association. “Literally, in some communities it would collapse.”

The Department of Health and Human Services made the cuts because they felt the lesser trained, lesser paid workers were actually providing the mental health services. Because of this uproar, though, leaders have agreed not to make the cuts retroactive.

The department said it's now willing to work with providers to come up with a fair rate. The reduced mental health service rates will remain in effect until a final rate is decided on next week.