State Budget Cuts May Force The Mentally Ill Into Emergency Departments.

Bloomberg News (2/23, Silverberg, Kazel) reports, “US states looking to balance budgets by cutting mental-health facilities and Medicaid payments risk increasing health-care costs by pushing psychiatric patients into emergency” departments. “States trimmed 9.5 percent, or more than $1.6 billion, from their mental-health spending from fiscal 2009 to 2012, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The coming budget year will be worse in some states, with Illinois looking to shutter two psychiatric hospitals and Alabama planning to close all of its except for one serving the elderly and another treating criminal cases.” According to emergency department physician Dr. William Sullivan, of the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, “if patients can’t find free or low-cost outpatient psychiatric care due to government cutbacks, they may swamp emergency rooms and raise health-care costs for all patients.”

Related Links:

— “Mental-Health Cuts by U.S. States Risk Boosting Health Costs,”Melissa Silverberg and Bob Kazel , Bloomberg Businessweek, February 26, 2012.

Posted in In The News.