Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center

I just learned about this website from some people involved with NAMI.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MBPC) provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies, as well as economic issues, that affect low- and moderate-income people in Massachusetts.

Speaking of NAMI and the budget and all that, why the huge uproar regarding Mitt's cuts to DMH. Yes, it's reprehensible and unethical that he'd do such a thing. But aside from halting state hospital admissions, none of his cuts are actually going to happen. I can say with a good deal of certainty that Deval is going to reverse the rest of the cuts before they go into effect. Why haven't people been in uproar over all the other cuts he's made to community services over the past four years? Those cuts actually, you know, happened.

Besides, halting admissions to state hospitals really isn't a bad thing. Sure, it shouldn't have been done as an extreme measure without consultation with people served by the system and working in the system. But state hospitals really aren't the best place for people to be served.

What the articles say about people being thrown out on the street in an acutely psychotic and dangerous state just isn't true. The cuts didn't suddenly make it ethical or legal for a provider to discharge someone from an emergency setting because there isn't a state hospital bed available. And most of the inpatient units are not state hospitals and are still able to admit people. The people who've written these articles don't realize that state hospitals are, for the most part, places where people are sent to be warehoused after not doing well in other settings. People do not usually get admitted to a state hospital immediately after problems start or resurface.

What's actually going to happen is that the lack of room in state hospitals is going to trickle down. People who aren't in acute crisis, but who could benefit from some stablization at a local inpatient unit, are going to be sent home. What's actually going to happen is that all the other inpatient, outpatient, and residential programs in the system are going to be to capacity or overloaded in order to accomodate as many people as possible. Programs are going to have to prioritize the people with the most acute issues.

The chronically homeless or in-and-out-of-hospitals-for-years folks who Mitt hates aren't going to see a drastic reduction in services. Instead, the clinicians at Mitt's neighborhood medical center who prescribe antidepressants to businessmen and test prep school children for learning disabilities aren't going to be able to do these things, because they'll be too booked with the people in the community with more acute mental health issues. They can't throw someone out on the street who is at high risk of being violent, but they absolutely can tell basically-stable-upstanding-community-member that it will be a year before he can come in and get a prescription refill.

As much at Mitt wishes, it isn't "the mentally ill" who are going to suffer.


Jodie said...

Mitt already restored the DMH budget cuts, didn't he? Not that he's St. Mitt or anything...

And hopefully Deval will restore everything else in a few months!

eeka said...

No, the state hospitals have stopped taking new folks. The other cuts are set to happen after Deval has taken office, so they won't actually happen.

Paul Levy posted the text of the same memo we got at work.