Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bearing Witness: What do the Budget Cuts Look Like on the Ground

Last month, Governor Patrick announce the first round of budget cuts to the State budget, in response to the fall in revenues thought the Commonwealth.  You heard in an earlier post that the fees to mental providers were rolled back.  Turns out that the cuts are starting to be felt throughout the Commonwealth.  The cuts are probably as fair as is possible, but the axe is starting to fall on some important strands of the community safety net for folks with mental health problems.  At our Steering Committee meeting yesterday, I heard some stories, so I sent out an e-mail to our larger group to see what was up.
Minutes will be forthcoming, but, at the Steering Committee meeting yesterday, we decided that one of the ways in which we could be useful would be to collect information about reductions in service or losses in service due to the current rollback in state funding, as a way of bearing witness, and knowing what needs to be restored when the hard times are over.

Please send me items that I can integrate into a blog entry, that can be updated on regular basis. What has your agency had to cut? What have you lost as a service recipient? What have you heard about cuts in the community?

David Keller MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics,
UMass Medical School
Physician Advocacy Fellow,
Center on Medicine as a Profession, Columbia University
Check out “Rosie D. and Me”

New E-mail address:
So far, I have heard about a few concrete examples:
Currently LUK is having to shut down our community based CEDAR group
home, which
we have run for over 20 years. This represents 6 DMH funded
slots, and 3 DSS slots for youth with behavioral health issues. We were
devastated, many of us put blood, sweat and tears into that program. We
have had limited referrals to some support and stablization services
through DCF and DMH, and others put on hold. DCF is only making emergency
referrals at this point. Cases are not being extended except in dire
circumstances. As a result, case loads are shrinking, and you know what
that could mean. We fear that we will not have DMR funding for our
adventure-based vacation bridge programs for kids with ASD. For some
families it was the only service they recieved. We will keep folks posted.
I also heard about some cuts to the CAP program- I am waiting for some of the details, and I will add them to the post.  We may have to cut some things, but we need to aware that these cuts are not "pork" or "fat".  They represent real losses to real people, and we have to figure out we are going to fill the gap created.

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