Two-thirds of states cut mental healthcare funds: report

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:18am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly two-thirds of states cut mental health funding from their general fund budgets over the last two years, according to a report released by a mental illness advocacy group on Wednesday.

Alaska with 35 percent, and South Carolina and Arizona both with 23 percent made the largest percentage cuts to mental health spending in their general fund budgets, which do not include federal Medicaid funding, the study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found.

"Cutting mental health means that costs only get shifted to emergency rooms, schools, police, local courts, jails and prisons," said NAMI executive director Michael Fitzpatrick. "The taxpayer still pays the bill."

"Some states are trying to hold the line or make progress, but most are cutting deep. This stands in contrast to the intense national concern about the mental health care system following the Arizona tragedy two months ago," he said.

He was referring to the shooting attack in Tucson in which six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

The mental state of the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, is an issue in the case based on various incidents in his past. Federal prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to order that Loughner be tested to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness said there is not a source for uniform information about state-by-state funding. Therefore, NAMI conducted the study by reviewing budgets from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Differences in state budget reporting and in states' populations may impact the findings.

Leading the states that were exceptions to the mental healthcare budget cutting rule were Oregon, North Carolina, and Rhode Island, with 23 percent, 21 percent, and 7 percent increases respectively.

(Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
DrJJJJ wrote:
Just one of the many moral consequences of living above our means! We’re just getting started with the downsizing, so make the mental adjustment! Has your state even begun to cut spending-ours hasn’t!

Mar 16, 2011 12:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AnneC wrote:
Mental care is one aspect of health care that supporters of the law should also address. This is also a problem because most cost-effective plans do not cover mental care. The people either apply for an expensive policy that will cover mental care services or they have to pay for it out of pocket. Neglecting mental care will have a serious impact on our society and will lead to bigger problems.

Anne C
NY Health Insurer

Mar 16, 2011 3:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.