There has been lots of discussion about cuts in the Governor’s proposed 2016-2017 budget. There are tax cuts and cuts to waitlists, but one cut that has been getting very little attention is the 56% cut to med management services for community providers. This cut has gotten so little attention because it isn’t being called a cut, it’s being called an equalization of rates. However, it would reduce rates to a level that would no longer allow our community based mental health providers to effectively offer this service that is so critical for many patients to stay at home or in their own communities. Already operating at a loss, many of these community based mental health providers will have to scale back these services or, more likely, close the programs altogether.
Services like medication management are what enable patients to function in their communities. Access to these services provides patients with the exact dosage of the one medication that doesn’t make them sick, the coping mechanisms and support they need to survive the worst symptoms of their illness, or the consistent support they need to live happy and healthy lives at home. Closing these programs would mean that thousands of patients and their families would have no one to turn to. The lucky patients would find more expensive residential treatments and the unlucky ones would go untreated, ending up in jails, emergency rooms, or worse, in the news associated with a fatal tragedy.
This is not what we want for Maine and it is not what we want for the thousands of people who need these services. With our jails and emergency rooms already struggling to provide adequate services for these patients, why would we cut funding to organizations that provide the lifeline that allows them to stay with their families and communities? Please stand with us in opposition to the cuts to med management and help protect our community based behavioral health services!
There are cuts in this year’s proposed budget that would equalize medication management rates for community behavioral health providers with primary care physicians. This may seem harmless but what it means is a 56% cut in the rates for community behavioral health providers to provide medication management services. These are the very medications that allow people with severe and persistent mental illness remain stable and safe in their communities. Already, many of these community based mental health providers are operating at a loss and they will have to scale back these services or, more likely, close the programs altogether, limiting access and compromising safety. That is not the only cut. The proposed budget also includes a 10% cut to Section 28 and 65 that would reduce in-home and community based services. Medication management and the services in section 28 and 65 are what allow patients to live safely and happily in their own communities. These services help patients stay out of the emergency room and the criminal justice system.
The Consumer Council System of Maine knows how important these services are. We need your help to make sure that the legislators who are voting on the budget in the next two weeks hear from us. We want to use social media to make sure that the members of the Appropriations committee know what these services mean to us and what enacting these cuts would do to our communities.
CCSM will be posting on Facebook and Twitter frequently over the next week. We need you to help by sharing and re-tweeting as well as expressing your own reasons for support and tagging members of the appropriations committee.
Examples could look like
On Facebook: My family and friends need medication management services from local providers in order to live safely and happily in their own communities. Help protect our community based behavioral health services. #medmgmtsaveslives #Mepolitics
On Twitter: My friends & family need med mgmt to live happily & safely in their communities. Remind legislators that #medmgmtsaveslives! #mepolitics
You can use and follow #medmgmtsaveslives and #mepolitics to really get the word out and magnify our voice. Watch for our posts and help us make sure that these legislators hear from the people who will really be effected by these cuts.