SHA News

News about supportive housing, affordable housing, and housing for people with special needs in New Jersey.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Who trusts Christie not to scrimp on the mentally ill?

Posted by on in OpEd
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 148
  • 0 Comments
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print

Who trusts Christie not to scrimp on the mentally ill?

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

The Christie administration has been trying to cut costs in the treatment of people with serious mental illnesses, and while our state could certainly use the savings, the risk is obvious. We need to make sure this doesn't hurt actual care.
 
The patients we're talking about include a man who drove his car into a building and attempted suicide-by-cop during a spell of psychosis, and another who ended up fatally shooting his wife in front of their 12-year-old kid, then himself.
 
Desperate people, who can sometimes become dangerous if they lapse on their medication. At the very least, they will end up in our emergency rooms, the most expensive place to get care.

Now the state is seeking to cut funding to the struggling community mental health centers that are their last resort, the only place many can afford to go. Like CarePlus in Bergen County, which advertises on the George Washington Bridge to save would-be jumpers.
 
The goal is to pay for each service rendered, rather than a guaranteed lump payment - what's known as fee-for-service. By reimbursing clinics for each therapy session after it's provided, and paying only for the work that they do, the state should see savings. It all sounds reasonable.
 
Problem is, many of the state's reimbursements are still too low, and centers say they can't absorb the cuts without slashing crucial care. They no longer have enough financial cushion to pay for overhead costs, like salaries for psychiatrists whose patients don't always show up.
 
Some are already laying off staff. When Michigan made this change between 2014 and 2016, about 10,000 people lost services. It's not clear what, if anything, Christie officials are doing to prevent the same from happening here.

The governor signed a bill earlier this year that requires independent monitoring of this reform, but we won't see those results for quite a while. In the meantime, Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen) is proposing a measure that would set aside $90 million to reimburse providers who fall short in the first year of the new system.
 
That's a prudent move, because this is the kind of spending cut that could backfire if not done carefully. And in these cases, we can't afford error.

Consider the man who attempted suicide-by-cop. He's now back on his meds, at home and doing well. But that depended on care that extended beyond a billable hour; helping him navigate the court system and find a job, for instance.
 
If he stops showing up for his appointments, it will take more outreach, which centers say they can no longer afford.

"The state is characterizing this as, 'We don't want to pay for somebody who doesn't show up for a visit.' But we're set up to go find someone when they don't show up - that's the whole purpose of the community health center," said Joe Masciandaro, the head of CarePlus.
 
And when a troubled guy like that goes missing, we want them to have every incentive to find him.

 

0
Trackback URL for this blog entry.

The Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey (SHA) is a statewide, nonprofit organization, founded in 1998, whose mission is to promote and maintain a strong supportive housing industry in New Jersey serving people with special needs.

Comments

  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Sunday, 23 July 2017

Signup here for SHA News in your Inbox | SHA Facebook Page | SHA Pinterest | Twitter @SHAnewjersey



 

SHA sitemap