Economic Recovery and Healthcare Reform
In December, the National Council passed on a request to its members from Mental Health Weekly, asking for the National Council’s responses to three questions:
What are the most pressing challenges you expect your organization to face in the coming year?
How do you plan to address them?
As 2009 approaches, what are you most excited about?
The responses were not merely grim, they were frightening.
Member after member in every state reported cuts that mean curtailment of services and access. Years of federal and state neglect coupled with the economic downturn have caught up with the members. And the National Council and its members are culpable, accepting blame for inadequate services and agreeing that they just needed to reorganize, to transform, to be more efficient, and to work harder.
The time has come to end the charade. Under the banner of states rights, the federal government went to a system of block grants that shifted financial responsibility for those suffering with mental illnesses to states and states in turn downloaded the risk but not the resources to counties and not for profit agencies. The result was financially fragmented, grossly underfunded, and insufficient community services.
2009 is a critical year. And the National Council is putting forward an actionable proposal: the integration of primary care services in behavioral health settings. The National Council’s Healthcare Collaborative Project brings together behavioral health and primary care organizations Individuals with serious mental illness appear to have the worst mortality rates in the public health system. Thus, the National Council is pursuing accountability to enhance continuity of care for this underserved population.