Mental Health Budget Cuts Costing MN More (CC)

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Joe Webb says budget cuts are preventing his mentally ill son from moving closer to home

Click photo to hear Joe Webb's story about his mentally ill son.

Click photo to hear Jerry Webb's story about his mentally ill son.

Jerry Webb wants his mentally ill son to live closer to home. But cuts made last year in Minnesota’s mental health budget are preventing that. Webb’s son suffers from schizophrenia, and for the last eight years he’s lived at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.

Webb’s son is getting better and he’s now able to move to an adult foster home.

“He was accepted for placement,” said Webb. “I was very overjoyed. I want my son closer to home and have an opportunity to begin his life in the community.”

But Webb told the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance committee that there’s a problem. The state has told corporate foster homes that anytime someone leaves a home, it cannot accept a replacement resident. The state made the change last July as part of its budget cuts to end the government shutdown.

“Decertification” leaves fewer and fewer foster home beds, costing state more money

“I was not happy when I was told there were no openings in any of the corporate homes at this time,” Webb said.”They have no openings, nor can they open a new home to meet his needs.

“Now after two months he’s still waiting for an opening. I understand there are 17 or 18 others like my son waiting to move out into the community but they can’t because there are not enough corporate foster care homes.

“I would assume a foster care home would cost the state a lot less then continued stay at the state hospital in St. Peter. ”

$2,472 per day is the cost of hospitalization for a serious mental illness according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Minnesota. Staying in a foster home costs less than a quarter of that.

Adult foster care homes normally have four beds. By “decertifying” a bed when a resident leaves, the home gets 25% less in state funding. In addition to the decertification, adult foster care providers are dealing with a 10% cut in funding.

“Sometimes our homes are staffed with only one person to serve four people. So a ten percent cut …how do you cut that ten percent of one person?” Brooke Schultz of South Metro Human Services told the committee.

“I’ve talked about, thinking about decreasing training for staff —that’s not a good thing when we’re working with folks who have clinical needs and we like to provide training and clinical ability for staff working with them.

“Recreational outings are something I’ve also thought about chopping. Not excited about that either for a number of different reasons. Our folks need community integration.

“With regards to decertification: the idea there would be that decreasing licensing by one person for a four-person home would decrease our ability to provide services by one quarter, making it impossible to continue operating a facility at seventy-five percent of the revenue.”

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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