KGOU

State Mental Health And Substance Abuse Agency May Cut All Outpatient Service

Oct 18, 2017

As the state legislature continue to look for solutions to fill a $215 million budget gap, one state agency outlined how it will deal with the loss of nearly one quarter of its budget.

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services commissioner Terri White announced Wednesday that her agency will end all state-funded outpatient services throughout Oklahoma.

“These cuts that I am going to discuss are unbearable,” White said. “They will decimate the state’s behavioral health system and in particular our outpatient network across the state.”

White says the cuts would impact 189,000 Oklahomans.

ODMHSAS faces the loss of approximately $75 million during the current fiscal year. The funding was lost when the state Supreme Court ruled a $1.50-per-pack tax on cigarettes was unconstitutional. The agency will also lose a corresponding $106 million in federal matching funds.

The plan to end outpatient services would begin in November, with full implementation in December and January.

A wide variety of services could possibly end. They include outpatient services for indigent and behavioral health Medicaid-eligible clients, children’s residential treatment services, drug courts, mental health courts, and the Systems of Care program for vulnerable youth and their families.

 

 

In a statement, Department of Corrections director Joe Allbaugh said the state’s prisons are already at 110 percent capacity, and the loss of services from ODMHSAS will increase the state’s prison population.

“Oklahoma incarcerates and supervises thousands of people with mental health and addiction issues. With respect to those in our custody, 58% have a history of or are currently receiving treatment for their mental health needs. The number of inmates with mental health needs has grown by 24% since 2013,” Allbaugh wrote.

In the previous fiscal year, DOC was only able to treat 28 percent of those who needed addiction treatment, according to Allbaugh.

The state legislature is currently in a special session to find a solution for the $215 million budget hole, but an agreement remains elusive.

Governor Mary Fallin tweeted the proposed cuts would be “nothing short of devastating.”

 

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