10/14/09 — Consequences: Mental health cuts could end up costing citizens much more

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Consequences: Mental health cuts could end up costing citizens much more

It might seem like bureaucrats whining because they had to endure cuts to their budgets when you hear the comments from those who are working in the state's mental health care organizations.

These advocates say they cannot possibly continue under the conditions that have been created by the legislature's decision to slice the mental health budget. And now they are asking the governor and the General Assembly to do something about it.

"So what," you might say. "Who hasn't had to deal with cuts to already-reduced budgets. Suck it up and work with what you have."

And if it were just that to think about, you would be right. There are certainly more than a few state employees who could use a reality check concerning what happens when there is less revenue coming in than going out.

But in the case of mental health, the reactionary decision to cut the budget might actually end up costing residents much more money if the problems that cut has created are not addressed.

When mental health services are not available through traditional means, these patients have to go somewhere -- and that is likely to be your local hospital's ER. Want to guess what that does to health costs?

And that is just one example.

There is a need to look more closely at the cuts and their intended and unintended consequences. A budget cut that ends up causing chaos is not a success -- it is a mistake.

It is time to re-examine the issue and to make sure the cuts are doing their job -- before North Carolina taxpayers get another unexpected bill.

Published in Editorials on October 14, 2009 11:07 AM