Mental Health Services in Limbo

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May 12, 2011; Source: Lincoln Journal Star | In Lancaster County, Neb., the fates of those who need mental health services are very much up in the air. All that is known now is that the county is looking at cuts, driven both by an impending $4.5 million shortfall in the county’s budget and, according to one official, by other anticipated funding changes including a 2.5 percent cut to Medicaid.

At immediate risk are the consumers who use the services of the local Community Mental Health Center. The center, which says it serves more than 2,000 people, has already sustained a recent $600,000 cut and implemented layoffs and pay cuts.

The Lancaster County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to form a study group that is expected to take 12 to 18 months to ascertain whether or not there is a different – and presumably cheaper – way of organizing services to people with mental health concerns.

The group is looking to possibly transfer mental health services or form partnerships with other agencies and organizations.

One commissioner opposed the changes said that she was dismayed and disappointed that the commission chose such a vulnerable population on which to visit potential cuts.—Ruth McCambridge