Thursday, October 25, 2012

Will California’s next proposed tax increase work any better than the last?

Before deciding whether to support or oppose Proposition 30, California voters should take a close look at what happened with the last tax on millionaires they approved. In 2004, Californians altruistically passed Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), a 1% tax on millionaires to improve services for people with serious mental illness Yet in spite of the $8 billion raised many are still homeless, psychotic, eating out of dumpsters and screaming at voices only they can hear. Programs that can help, like Laura’s Law, remain unimplemented. The number of homeless mentally ill increased.
What happened?
Mental health officials accepted the voter’s mental health money, but not their requirement to spend it on the most seriously ill.

Monday, October 22, 2012

NYS OMH Commissioner Leaving: Good News for NYS

Last week we wrote on a NYS Inspector General Report proving the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) falsifies discharge plans of people with mental illness in order to kick them out of the hospital.

This week we are happy to report that in an article posted online NYS OMH Commissioner Michael Hogan made it clear he is leaving.

This is good news. NY needs a commissioner who will focus the department on serving the sickest people, rather than the largest number of people. It is the key change needed at OMH: Send those with the most serious mental illnesses to the front of the line, rather than the back, like Hogan did.

We previously wrote Huffington Post why Michael Hogan should be fired and in Albany Times Union on how eliminating OMH could improve services for the most seriously ill. We calculated how his refusal to support one program (Kendra's Law) was costing NYS $73 million. Huffington Post writer and medical director of the New York State Office of Mental Health estimated that inefficiency in OMH was costing up to $665 million. While OMH stopped focusing on the most seriously ill and started focusing on the least, the tragedies mounted as more persons with mental illness shot others, were shot by police, or killed themselves in an effort to escape the Hell that lack of care placed them in.

Hopefully, Governor Andrew Cuomo is replacing Mr. Hogan with a commissioner who will reverse his practices and return the focus to people with serious mental illness. It won't be easy. OMH is the biggest state agency giving out billions of dollars. That tends to gain you a lot of friends interested in preserving the status quo.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Report: NYS Office of Mental Health Falsifies Discharge Plans for Mentally Ill

An investigation by acting New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott found officials at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center allowed the release of mentally ill patients without a required discharge plan and then directed staff to cover it up. In this particular case, Kingsboro discharged a mentally ill woman to a street corner near a shelter. (Read Full Report or Summary)
The Inspector General expanded her investigation and found the failure to see that discharged patients get appropriate care is systemic.