Once again, the future of mental health services are back in the hands of Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The House and Senate Conference Committee finally finished their negotiation of the final bill that would go to the Governor. You can see the full details here. These discussions have been long and tense, and many of the most important programs for our community were up for cuts.
The final bill is better than the Governor’s original proposal, and it is much better than the House proposal too. But it still reflects the political and economic environment we’re in, and it will be a challenge to deal with in the coming year. Please contact the Governor’s office and let him know what you think. The compromise bill proposes:
- Restored funding for the Adult Mental Health grants supports community programs such as CSPs, drop in centers, and case management. These grants were cut earlier in the session to pay for the GAMC compromise bill.
- Restored funding for ACT teams in rural areas.
- Cuts to housing with support for adults with serious mental illnesses. However, these cuts are for 2010 and are not projected to continue at this point. All the major proposals have cut this amount.
We are particularly concerned for out-state Minnesotans at this time. The Governor has taken it upon himself to modify the conditions of the GAMC deal struck with legislators earlier in the session. When no hospitals would agree to participate, he managed to convince 4 metro hospitals to accept a limited number GAMC patients. There are two serious problems with this. Patient limits were not part of the legislated solution, and may cut individuals off from needed care. Secondly, four metro hospitals do not replace a state-wide safety net. This is an unacceptable plan to people who do not live near the Twin Cities.
We would like to thank the members of the conference committee for hearing the needs of Minnesotans with mental illnesses. We urge the Governor to do the same,