Legislators Throw Mentally Ill Under The Bus - Tomorrow is a Day of Action

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{Division of Medical Assistance Team Forsaking North Carolina's mental heatlh service recipients}

Tomorrow BlueNC will join with bloggers across North Carolina to urge our readers to contact legislators and bureaucrats in an effort to reverse a killing blow first mentioned here yesterday. This post is a background piece for the action tomorrow.

In 2001, North Carolina undertook a massive reform of its mental health system. The network of publicly funded providers had grown bureaucratic, bloated and stagnant. While individual practitioners continued, in most cases, to provide excellent care, the system was buckling under its own weight and lacked innovation.

The mental health system reform was intended to improve services and cut costs by introducing competition. In this regard the plan was a success, hundreds of private providers sprung up across the state to provide psychiatry, counseling, psychological services, case management, day treatment, job training, and community based services to mentally ill children and adults.

The problem, of course, is that despite being dead last in the nation in spending on mental health, state legislators wanted to cut more deeply, more lethally. They changed the definitions of the services they reimbursed. They slashed the rates at which doctors and therapists were paid, driving many away from providing services to impoverished children and families. They changed the system again and again and again, and many providers, including the massive New Vistas in western North Carolina, shut their doors and sent their clients into the streets.

There are a few dozen providers left after the storm of 2006. They are among the most creative, flexible, innovative entrepreneurs in the nation, somehow staying in business despite the state's every attempt to force them into bankruptcy.

The state decided to kill mental health services once and for all on the day before Good Friday. Mere hours before the state would commence a 4-day holiday, word came from the Division of Medical Assistance that reimbursement rates for Community Support services would be cut by a third, from $60/hour to $40/hour.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCommunity Support services, a new service definition created by the state les than a year ago, allow clients to receive needed help in life skills (balancing a checkbook, etc.), accessing resources like child care, or practicing behavioral skills vital to living independently. Without these services, many clients will end up unemployed, expelled, or institutionalized.

The state, unwilling to try systems that have worked in other states, is going to kill the last few private providers by forcing them into this choice: Hire only low-wage workers who will provide sub-par services, or lose money and go out of business.

Tomorrow I'm going to ask the North Carolina Blogging Community to join with BlueNC in calling for a reexamination of this catastrophic decision. I'll ask you to call and email legislators to demand a fair shake for the mentally ill. There is no one to speak for them, so it is up to us.

Thanks, and I'll see you tomorrow.


This is the biggest awful surprise

(and the stupidest thing) to come out of the Lege this year.

Good on you, Screwy. I'll check in tomorrow to follow instructions, Mr. Screwy.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Thanks, Les

I'm getting tomorrow's posts together as we speak.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

So busy at work can't sneak to the Blue

Hope you'll give us something we can do after hours. :)

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

Sure I will Momo!

If you're into getting a head start, here's a list of legislators' email addresses. Let them know that you're against the Community Support Rate cut, and let them know that the cut will mean that businesses won't be able to pay their bills. Without the businesses, the mentally ill will be left without a safety net. The legislature can fix the problem by creating a tiered payment system, but they can not simply cut, retroactively, reimbursements.

The list:

Sen. Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. - martinn@ncleg.net
(919) 715-3001 or (828) 252-0490

Sen. Austin Murphy Allran - Austina@ncleg.net
(919) 733-5876 or (828) 322-1410

Sen. Robert C. Atwater - Boba@ncleg.net
(919) 715-3036 or (919) 715-3036

Sen. Janet Cowell - Janetc@ncleg.net
(919) 715-6400 or (919) 649-4172

Sen. Charlie Smith Dannelly - Charlied@ncleg.net
(919) 733-5955 or (919) 733-5955

Sen. James Summers Forrester - Jamesf@ncleg.net
(919) 715-3050 or (704) 263-4716

Sen. Vernon Malone - Vernonm@ncleg.net
(919) 733-5880 or (919) 828-5853

Sen. William Robert Purcell, MD - Williamp@ncleg.net
(919) 733-5953 or (910) 276-7328

Or you can copy and paste the whole list!
martinn@ncleg.net, Austina@ncleg.net, Boba@ncleg.net, Janetc@ncleg.net, Charlied@ncleg.net, Jamesf@ncleg.net, Vernonm@ncleg.net, Williamp@ncleg.net

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Done done done done done done done done

Thanks for pushing this Screwy.

My letter . . . tweaked for different members

Dear __________:

I have followed with dismay the Legislature’s irresponsible positions on mental health funding in North Carolina. From the miserly overall budget to the destructive practices of reducing payments to providers, you are doing something the right-wing our state has never accomplished – you are gutting the public safety net.

Stop this game playing and get with the program. Move North Carolina out of the basement when it comes to those in need. Real people with real lives are counting on you to behave like responsible adults.

Sorry for not being nicer . . . I'm pretty disgusted by the whole damn bunch right now.

A better list!

Here's my final email list + some phone numbers!

Great letter, Anglico.

I'm on the road to Raleigh now. See you all tomorrow!

Link To House Mental Health Reform Committee members

A complete email list for that committee: Beverlye@ncleg.net, Verlai@ncleg.net, Marthaa@ncleg.net, Jeffba@ncleg.net, Williambr@ncleg.net, Vanb@ncleg.net, Debbiec@ncleg.net, Lindac@ncleg.net, Jimcr@ncleg.net, Bobe@ncleg.net, Rickg@ncleg.net, Path@ncleg.net, Carolynj@ncleg.net, Jhl@ncleg.net, Marianm@ncleg.net, Earlinep@ncleg.net, Karenr@ncleg.net, Lauraw@ncleg.net

Link to Senate Mental Health Committee members

A complete email list for that committee:

Boba@ncleg.net, Elliek@ncleg.net, martinn@ncleg.net, Charlied@ncleg.net, Jamesf@ncleg.net, Jimja@ncleg.net, Vernonm@ncleg.net, Jeanp@ncleg.net, Williamp@ncleg.net, Larrys@ncleg.net, Johnsn@ncleg.net, abs@ncleg.net

Sen. Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. - (919) 715-3001 or (828) 252-0490

Sen. Austin Murphy Allran - (919) 733-5876 or (828) 322-1410

Sen. Robert C. Atwater - (919) 715-3036 or (919) 715-3036

Sen. Janet Cowell - (919) 715-6400 or (919) 649-4172

Sen. Charlie Smith Dannelly - (919) 733-5955 or (919) 733-5955

Sen. James Summers Forrester - (919) 715-3050 or (704) 263-4716

Sen. Vernon Malone - (919) 733-5880 or (919) 828-5853

Sen. William Robert Purcell, MD - (919) 733-5953 or (910) 276-7328

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

I'll be there

Just blogged it back at my home blog, and will try to round up some more callers tomorrow.

Here's more phone numbers and names

Screwy's Senate list has these emails but no phone numbers and names:

Sen. Jim Jacumin: (919) 715-7823(828) 397-3723

Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird (Dem) (919) 733-5804; (919) 929-1607

Sen. Jean Preston: (919) 733-5706; (252) 354-6993

Sen. Larry Shaw (Dem) (919) 733-9349; (910) 323-5303

Sen. John Snow, (Dem) (919) 733-5875; (828)837-5052;

Sen. A. B Swindell (Dem)(919) 715-3030, (252) 462-0190

“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Here's a link to some info on police safety

in dealing with the untreated mentally ill:

Here's some quotes for any emails you might write:

Safety of officers is jeopardized

In 1998, people with mental illnesses killed law enforcement officers at a rate 5.5 times greater than the rest of the population.

In 1998, law enforcement officers were more likely to be killed by a person with a mental illness (13 percent) than by assailants who had a prior arrest for assaulting police or resisting arrest (11 percent).

Since 1998, six law enforcement officers have lost their lives in encounters with assailants with mental illnesses in the Washington, DC metropolitan area alone.

Safety of people with mental illness is jeopardized

People with severe mental illnesses are killed by police in justifiable homicides at a rate nearly four times greater than the general public.

In Phoenix, incidents in which police used force with mentally ill people tripled between 1998 and 2003, continuing to rise despite a training program introduced in 2001 to teach officers about mental illness and how to appropriately respond to a mentally ill individual in crisis. In 2002, 30 chronically mentally ill people had confrontations with Phoenix police that ended with force, from physical restraint to shooting.

Nearly one third of those killed in police shootings in New York City in 1999 were mentally ill.

“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Screwy...I know I'm late

but just got home from vacation and will jump on this tomorrow and try to add one more drum beating on this.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Letter Submitted

I just sent the following letter to the News and Observer

On April 5th a decision was made by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Carmen Hooker Odom to destroy the mental health care system within North Carolina. Our Mental Health Care system was already in a crisis. We are almost at the bottom in per capita spending on mental health care. This disturbing fact means that our state has decided it would rather spend extra money on things like jails, homeless shelters, etc. instead of saving money by providing for the proper treatment those with mental illnesses.

Unless immediate action is taken, this budget cut will result in every private group associated with mental health care in this state going out of business, most likely within a few weeks or months. The budget cut was justified by an internal report saying that these companies only needed 2/3 of what they were being paid to actually operate. If that were true then only one or two businesses would be affected. If nothing is done to rectify this situation we will be left with zero ability to care for our mentally ill.

I trust that the Governor will fix this situation, and if not, that the Legislature will fix it by itself.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"