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Parsing The Effect Of Impending Budget Cuts On Mental Health Services

Credit Centennial PH/Creative Commons

If you follow the news in Maryland, you’ve been hearing about budget cuts – not just since last week, when Gov. Hogan presented his budget the day after he was inaugurated, but three weeks ago, when outgoing Democratic Gov. O’Malley shepherded a set of budget cuts through the Board of Public Works, to take effect immediately.

This morning we 're looking in-depth at one particular area --mental health.  About 160,000 adults and children in Maryland use public mental-health services, a number that’s increased by more than half in the last decade, especially with the advent of Obamacare, which requires most health insurance plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder services.

Here in the studio with me is Lori Doyle, public policy director for the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland. And joining us by phone from Annapolis is the new chair of the public health subcommittee of the House Health and Government Operations Committee, Del. JoselinePena-Melnyk of Prince Georges and Anne Arundel Counties.   She recently penned a Baltimore Sun opinion piece, Balancing Md.'s Budget on the Backs of the Mentally Ill

More on mental health care access: the “Parity Project” of the Mental Health Association of Maryland checked all the psychiatrists listed in the networks of qualified health plans being sold on state’s insurance exchange, MarylandConnection.gov.  It found less than halfof the listed psychiatrists were reachable, and only one in seven was accepting new patients and available for an appointment within 45 days.

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.