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EXCLUSIVE: Leading Mental Health Provider Speaks Out on Budget Cuts

July 19, 2017 By Staff
EXCLUSIVE: Leading Mental Health Provider Speaks Out on Budget Cuts

Budget cuts to BHcare, a behavioral health provider, will lead to more state spending on hospitals and jails in the long run, according to one executive.

Cuts to mental and behaviorial health will hurt hundreds of Connecticut patients and lead to more spending by the state on hospitals and jails, a leading executive for a mental health provider told Reclaim Connecticut on Wednesday.

Roberta Cook, the president and CEO of BHcare, a mental health provider that has offices in North Haven, Ansonia, and Branford, took time to talk to Reclaim Connecticut about proposed cuts to mental health in Connecticut.

BHcare serves people with severe mental illnesses in the New Haven and Naugatuck Valley areas, along with people fleeing domestic violence in the state.

5%

Cook told Reclaim Connecticut that the administration of Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.) reached out to BHcare and other mental health providers in the state last week. The state asked BHcare “to put together a plan in the event that there was a five percent cut.”

The results of a five-percent cut?

  • About 500 clients of BHcare would be impacted over the course of a year
  • BHcare would have to eliminate seven positions
  • And, Cook added, any benefit of spending cuts would be blunted by the fact that less money on preventive care would lead to more state taxpayer dollars spent at hospitals and jails

MALLOY

According to The CT Mirror, the current budget of Malloy “would cut $50 million from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the coming year.” The current budget crisis adds to woes for mental health providers:

Those cuts would come on top of others in previous years. And because the state has not yet adopted a budget for the fiscal year that started July 1, advocates say many programs can continue for only about six to 12 weeks.

“We just continue to advocate on behalf of our clients,” Cook said, when asked how BHcare is pushing back. “And honestly a lot of our clients are advocating for themselves.”

MEDICAID, TOO

Cook also warned of the impact that federal cuts to Medicaid expansion would have on BHcare and other mental health providers.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the Senate Republican version of Obamacare repeal and replacement would have the federal government spending $772 million less on Medicaid over 10 years than it’s projected to spend now.

This is one issue where Cook and Malloy will agree: the governor lauded the state’s “leading” role in expanding Medicaid under Obamacare in a release celebrating the anniversary Obamacare in March.