Exuding confidence that the Trump administration would provide insurance coverage to all Americans, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval on Thursday proposed to slash the state’s mental health budget by $20 million. The majority of the proposed cut comes to the outpatient treatment services provided by Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (NNAMHS) and Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (SNAMHS). The move will eliminate 112 positions that include pharmacy technicians, psychiatrists and other mental health care workers.
Defending his decision, Governor Sandoval has argued that the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will allow more patients to seek care in private institutions. The Republican governor said that he had spoken to legislative leaders and used Nevada as an example of an ACA success. Under the expanded Medicaid program, an additional 209,000 people have gained coverage.
Sandoval has taken President Trump at his word, as per whom no American would lose his or her insurance cover. Though the governor trusts the Trump administration on providing insurance coverage to all Americans, he is frustrated by the administration’s inability to detail out a reform plan.
Emphasis on behavioral health system
Sandoval said he has been dedicated to improving mental health services in Nevada since he took office and that he was going to be very protective of people who had benefitted from the expanded Medicaid program. He called the program a winner for the state. The governor also said that he would continue to work with federal leaders to protect the expanded coverage offered by the ACA.
According to Richard Whitley, director of Nevada’s Health and Human Services Department, there has been a drop in the caseload for medication clinics and outpatient services as more people receive federally-funded care. He said that it was not just a cost saving for the state, but an improvement in health care services available to people living in poverty with behavioral health issues.
Mike Willden, Governor Sandoval’s chief of staff, said people who are talking about cuts in mental health are wrong. According to him, the new budget will improve the behavioral health system. Notably, the proposed budget also includes an increase of $173 million to handle Medicaid caseload growth over the next two years. The proposed amount is likely to generate another $879 million in federal spending in the state.
Though the state is closely monitoring the ACA repeal efforts, agencies are planning on the basis of the situation at present. As per Willden, there is no repeal at present, and they do not know what the reform looks like. He said if Medicaid coverage gets eliminated, the state would reassess whether it needs to build a safety net for the mentally ill.
Critics do not agree
Advocates for the mentally ill are not happy with the governor’s decision. They have argued that even with Medicaid coverage, people with mental health issues will have difficulty accessing private care in Reno due to shortage of psychiatrists and inpatient treatment beds. They also point out that if Congress agrees to repeal the ACA, it will amount to mentally ill losing coverage under Medicaid at a time when the state is shrinking its benefits for mental health.
According to Chuck Duarte, CEO of Community Health Alliance and policy chairperson of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), if the proposed cuts go through, the private providers would be hard pressed to provide adequate access to mental health services. He said that the private providers were already hard-pressed and did not have enough capacity.
Road to recovery
If you or someone you know is suffering from any kind of mental illness, it is time to get them professional help and treatment. Contact Sovereign Health for the right treatment at one of our finest mental health facilities in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline 866-973-7164 or chat online with our representatives to get more details on our mental health programs in California and other states.