RALEIGH, N.C., Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) North Carolina today announced that North Carolina ranks 24th among all states in terms of mental health care budget cuts made between fiscal years 2009 and 2012, according to a national report issued today by NAMI. In light of this new report, NAMI North Carolina urges the General Assembly and members of Congress to continue protecting North Carolinians living with mental illness from additional spending cuts, which will only exacerbate challenges to the mental health system.
"North Carolina's mental health system is at a crossroads," said NAMI North Carolina Executive Director Deby Dihoff. "While state leaders in North Carolina have worked hard to minimize cuts to mental health, the budget battles are far from over. We know that any further cuts will endanger our state hospitals and our community mental health system, which have both undergone tremendous turmoil and upheaval in recent years. We need a time of stability for the managed care approach to take hold and strengthen our system."
"North Carolinians need to contact members of Congress and state legislators to ask that mental health care be strengthened in the upcoming budget and protected from any cuts aimed at deficit reduction," continued Dihoff. "North Carolina's mental health care system is already at a breaking point, and if the congressional 'Super Committee' recommends further Medicaid or Medicare cuts this month, additional pressures will come into play. We can't balance the budget by compromising health care for our state's most vulnerable citizens."
According to the new NAMI report, "State Mental Health Cuts: The Continuing Crisis," North Carolina cut $7.3 million from state mental health care between fiscal years 2009 and 2012—a decrease of 1.2 percent. While the state made serious cuts to mental health spending, $48.2 million between fiscal years 2011 and 2012, the numbers don't tell the whole story. $45 million of those cuts were directed to the Local Management Entities, which were directed to take these one-time cuts largely out of their fund balances. Leaders in North Carolina made an effort to ensure that these cuts did not, in large part, affect service delivery. But North Carolina would like to join the majority of states, which increased their funding to mental health in the period from 2011-2012.
According to the NAMI report, during this same four-year period between fiscal years 2009 and 2012, South Carolina had the highest cuts totaling 39.3 percent of its budget, while North Dakota actually increased its mental health care spending by 48.l percent. See the report for full state-by-state data.
The NAMI report also outlines Medicaid pressures that threaten mental health care nationwide. Following the June 2011 loss of "enhanced" federal Medicaid matching funds that were part of economic stimulus legislation, states have had to fill the shortfall. North Carolina experienced an estimated loss of $343 million in enhanced funding. North Carolina's Medicaid program is now facing a nearly $140 million shortfall.
"We need to protect state and federal Medicaid revenues budgeted for mental health because for every dollar the state puts in, we receive two dollars from the federal government," continued Dihoff. "A recent report by the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center noted that if federal matching dollars are lost, it will cost North Carolina more than 13,000 jobs, and $613 million in labor income. State Medicaid funding means better health care for those with disabilities and a better economy."
NAMI North Carolina has developed a Public Policy Agenda outlining mental health priorities to guide state and federal policymakers as they make budget recommendations and consider funding allocations for mental health. NAMI North Carolina supports priorities that promote sustainable stability for North Carolinians living with mental illness such as additional community hospital beds and housing. To read the NAMI North Carolina Public Policy Agenda, visit http://naminc.org/nn/policy/PPagenda.pdf.
About NAMI North Carolina
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) North Carolina is a grassroots non-profit organization providing support, education and advocacy for people living with mental illnesses and their families and friends. We are governed by a Board of Directors elected by membership and are 501(c)(3) accredited. NAMI NC is a part of NAMI which has over 210,000 members in 1,200 affiliates across the country. For more information, please visit www.naminc.org.
SOURCE National Alliance on Mental Illness North Carolina