Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mental Health Treatment a la Carte; Bill Putting State Funds for Care in Patients' Hands Saves Money

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mental Health Treatment a la Carte; Bill Putting State Funds for Care in Patients' Hands Saves Money

Article excerpt

Byline: WENDI ZONGKER

Nancy Fudge says her life was changed in 2001 by a bill state Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, sponsored.

Fudge, who lives in Green Cove Springs, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1986. She said she often felt frustrated that her treatment was in the hands of physicians and not under her own control.

In 2001, the Legislature passed Bean's bill for a pilot program in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties to give mental health patients whose care was paid for by state funds a say in determining the care they receive.

The bill - Bean's first - diverted state funds from service providers to people with mental illnesses.

It was the first such program in the country, said Gene Costlow, human services program director at the state Department of Children and Families' Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, which was charged with developing the pilot program.

On July 1, the Legislature made the program permanent and gave the agency authority to expand it statewide.

"Self-directed care gives the participants, people with mental illness, control of the money that otherwise would have been given to providers and allows them to make their own choices," Bean said.

Mental health treatment traditionally is handled by state-funded service providers, Costlow said.

"It's like the cafeteria," he said. "You eat what they serve."

Bean's bill changed that.

The three-year pilot program was allotted $470,000 in state funds. The program was extended another four years in 2004.

Under self-directed care, caseworkers talk about the program with patients with "severe and persistent mental illness" who then make the choice to join, Costlow said.

An independent life coach assists the participant in making mental health treatment choices and a budget for spending the money, he said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.