MHAM is relieved to see signs of progress after many setbacks. Thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators and got involved: public pressure helps make sure that things get done right.
General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) has passed both the House and Senate. Given the Governor’s prior support of this plan, we expect it to be signed into law shortly before the plan is set to expire at the end of the month. While we continue to have serious concerns about the effect of cuts to county mental health grants, we are thankful that some organized system of care will be available to those who have relied on GAMC.
Federal Health Care Reform appears to be moving forward, with the main bill signed and the addendum bill on its way. Rep. Tom Huntley, chair of the House Health Care and Human Services Finance Division has noted that Minnesota is in good shape to capture additional federal dollars for Medical Assistance patients with chronic conditions (including mental illnesses). While details are still coming out about the exact budget impact, we hope that as the pressure on the state is eased, some of the cuts to mental health services will be reconsidered. Health Care Reform will have many other effects on our community, especially in terms of the availability of coverage. We will post more here in the coming days.
Finally, the debate over State Operated Services continues. There are no clear resolutions yet, but preliminary negotiations are underway to save some facilities by transferring operation to private companies or counties. Your voices are still needed in making sure that the final redesign will reflect the needs of consumers. Our goals remain focused on ensuring the availability of appropriate services, transparency in how SOS is run, and the minimization of the state as a direct provider. We have heard about many challenges and difficulties in the current system. This is all the more reason that when we redesign SOS, we get it right.
Keep calling, writing, and staying involved…
I am concerned with the talk of closing the state run dental clinics. These patients have made huge strides in dental health improvement and are now comfortable with their dental treatment in our facility. We have the equipment necessary for their treatment that public dental facilities do not have. My fear is that they will not get the proper treatment they deserve and will end up with infections that will compromise their overall health. Many of these patients are vulnerable adults and rely on us for their care.
I think it’s important to say that nobody in the advocate community is *happy* with what we’re looking at. With 17 million in cuts, valuable services are going to be lost.