In The Know: ‘Unprecedented’: Mental health advocates, state leaders prepare for the worst as mental health cuts loom
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‘Unprecedented’: Mental health advocates, state leaders prepare for the worst as mental health cuts loom: Surrounded by dozens of representatives from across the state, including from hospitals, law enforcement and other state agencies, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services outlined budget cuts that were described as “unprecedented” and “devastating.” “This is a really difficult day for our department and for the behavioral health network across the state of Oklahoma. It is an especially difficult day for the families and individuals who rely on our life-saving services,” said Terri White, commissioner of ODMHSAS [The Frontier]. Although the Oklahoma Legislature has convened numerous special sessions in recent decades, none has dealt with issues as sweeping and consequential as the current one [OK Policy].
Rehab work camps were about to be regulated. Then a friend stepped in: For years, Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery proudly operated outside of state oversight in Oklahoma. The founders ran their Christian recovery program their way – with church, hard manual labor and little government interference. In 2013, it looked like that was about to change. After a handful of patients died in another unregulated rehab, state lawmakers introduced a bill to crack down on a wide swath of uncertified programs. Then Republican lawmaker Doug Cox stepped in [Reveal].
Oklahoma taxes are the lowest in our region, and falling: This week the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services began alerting care providers that they will have to shut down the state’s entire outpatient behavioral health system, with just a few exceptions, if lawmakers don’t find ways in special session to fill the agency’s $75 million budget hole. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is planning to cut rates paid to doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes by 9 percent — a scenario that would likely put more rural hospitals out of business at a time when pregnant women in rural Oklahoma already are being forced to travel long distances for basic care [OK Policy].
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