Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Mental Health Leaders: Medicaid Cuts Would Jeopardize Care

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Mental Health Leaders: Medicaid Cuts Would Jeopardize Care

Article excerpt

Leaders of two Topeka community mental health organizations spoke out against the state's proposed 4 percent cuts to Medicaid, a move they said will cost the two centers about $1.1 million and will jeopardize mental health services in Shawnee County.

Brenda Mills, CEO of Family Service & Guidance Center of Topeka, and Bill Persinger, CEO of Valeo Behavioral Health Care, sent a joint news release on Friday to express their concerns about the Medicaid cuts, proposed as part of the state's plan to handle budget shortfalls.

"There have been about 10 or so events or public policy decisions, revenue decisions, whatever you want to call 'em, since about 2009 or so that have really shaken the foundation of community mental health center funding," Persinger said, adding that the announcement of a 4 percent Medicaid cut just layered on top of other cuts to make the situation untenable.

"Each one in and of themselves has had a negative effect on public mental health, but when you add them all together, and you look at the impact of the most recent two or three of these events or decisions, we're looking at a serious problem," he said. "We're going to have to change the way we practice, but it's our job to be there (to help)."

Persinger said the 4 percent Medicaid cut for Valeo would mean about $537,000 less annually, while Mills said the cut would be about $500,000 for FSGC.

Those cuts come on top of $1 million each organization lost after the state cut a "health homes" program that offered services for severely mentally ill individuals, Mills said. The end of that program, which was shut down completely statewide, translated to a loss of 22 positions at FSGC, she added. No staff members were laid off, and the positions were eliminated through attrition.

Persinger said Valeo also has used attrition to eliminate positions to save money and so far, hasn't had to lay anyone off.

Both mental health leaders said they were unsure what programs or services will be cut as a result of the loss of Medicaid funding, and both organizations are assessing the situation. …

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