Ohio House Republican press release: Proposal to restructure public mental health

Editor’s note: This appears to be just a proposal, at present, as I do not yet see a bill listed on the General Assembly website. State rep David Burke represents the 83rd Ohio House district, which includes Logan County, Union County, and most of Marion County.  This press release was issued 1/21/2011. After reading through the press release, you are welcome to read my further editorial comments (below the fold).

REP. BURKE: OHIO’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM FACES A CRISIS

Will introduce bill to identify cost-savings, structural improvements

COLUMBUS—In order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Ohio’s mental health services, State Representative Dave Burke (R-Marysville) intends to propose legislation that calls for a review of Ohio’s behavioral health system. The goal of this legislation will be to identify potential reforms and cost-containment opportunities within the system, which will not only improve state health services but also rein in costs.

“The current system is crumbling and fragmented,” said Burke, who serves as chairman of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee of the Finance and Appropriations Committee. “There is no transparency with regard to costs, and oftentimes there is no coordination of services. With numerous tragic events that have happened over the last few years that have involved behavioral health system issues, it is important that Ohio make a comprehensive review of the system.”

More than 340,000 Ohioans received community mental health treatment during fiscal year 2009. Starting in 2014, the Ohio Medicaid program expects that more than 550,000 new enrollees will be added to the system, about one-third of whom will require mental health treatment. However, the current system leaves significant gaps in coverage for individuals who need behavioral services, which in fiscal year 2009 left more than 22,000 mental health patients without Medicaid coverage.

According to Burke, a lack of coordination between departments often leads to inflated costs or flawed patient care, which not only strains the state budget but also puts vulnerable Ohioans at risk. Many mentally ill Ohioans end up institutionalized in prisons and nursing homes, when in reality, a number of these individuals require more intensive behavioral treatment.

“It is extremely important that we don’t let Ohioans who depend on state services fall through the cracks or be subjected to inadequate treatment,” said Burke. “We will soon have an opportunity to improve Ohio’s mental health system while at the same time reduce inefficiency. This is a standard of excellence that we owe to those who elected us to lead this state.”

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