State challenges Holub’s statements

A state mental health official is challenging County Commissioner Dan Holub’s assertion last week that red tape and budget cuts for mental health providers “are setting these people up to fail.”

In a letter to this newspaper one day after Holub’s comments were reported, Angela de Rocha, communications director to the secretary for aging and disability services, cited evidence that she said indicates Kansas ranks 20th among 50 states in funding for mental health, spending 71 percent more per resident than other states do on average.

De Rocha claims that any cuts in mental health programs during Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration have been attributable to lower caseloads, primarily as a result of preferring outpatient to inpatient care.

In May, she wrote, the state announced allocation of an additional $9.5 million for new mental health projects.

De Rocha did not address Holub’s assertion that obtaining authorization from the state to provide services under the KanCare program had led to unnecessary delays.

Holub, who is on the Harvey-Marion County Community Developmental Disability Organization board, responded Monday to De Rocha’s letter. He said the real reason for lower mental health caseloads is because the state has made it harder for people to qualify for services.

In response to De Rocha’s claim that more money is being put into the mental health care system, he said the state has just shuffled money around to make it look like there is more money.

“That’s not new money,” he said. “That’s money that was already in the system.”

He added that once someone qualifies for mental health services, they have to deal with KanCare, the system the state uses for Medicaid administration.

“And that’s almost worse than trying to qualify,” Holub said.

He said there is a parent on the CDDO board who spends one week every month trying to get prescriptions filled for her daughter.

Holub said the changes made in recent years to mental health care are all about finances and politics, rather than services for the people who need them.

“Patient care hasn’t got a damn thing to do with it,” Holub said.

 

Quantcast