Budget cuts affect mental health care
Monday, November 3rd, 2008
The head of the Pennsylvania's Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services says local administrators will receive letters this week detailing county-specific budget cuts.
Overall, more than $4 million is being stripped from Pennsylvania's mental health budget. Deputy Secretary Joan Erney told advocates and service providers to brace themselves.
Erney: We are in for a pretty dicey time.
In Harrisburg at the state conference for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Erney said in rough economic times vulnerable people need more help, not less. She's cutting administrative expenses first. There's an office hiring freeze and a ban on out-of-state staff travel.
Erney: But I have to say to you, that we really, I don't believe, can absorb much more.
Her office has lost 45 positions since Erney was appointed in 2003. Now, community programs and services will feel the pinch. Erney says counties won't get their usual share of a $1.4 million fund.
Erney: Money that goes to the county mental health and drug and alcohol system – and it supports people who have no insurance, it really is our safety net money.
And, the state won't launch a planned electronic prescribing program. Erney says anything non-essential is being reviewed, delayed or deleted.
Over the next fiscal year, Erney says local service providers can expect extra scrutiny; she's looking for waste and administrative costs that are too high.