Gov. Sam Brownback is making a major push to improve the state’s mental health system. The governor's plan creates a behavioral health sub-cabinet within state government, targets substance abuse for its role in exacerbating mental illness, and increases financial investment in current treatment programs, among other things.
85,000 uninsured Kansans have found themselves in the so-called Medicaid gap, unable to receive federal or state funding to help cover healthcare costs. Governor Brownback has deferred the issue to state lawmakers. Many local residents spoke about the issue at a legislative forum.
Kansas policymakers have decided not to expand the state's Medicaid program, or to create a Kansas-specific exchange for consumers to buy individual health insurance policies. But the Affordable Care Act is coming and it's bringing some changes to the Medicaid program, whether the state's political leaders want to cooperate or not.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness says gaps in mental health care could be addressed if every state-including Kansas-would expand Medicaid as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act.
Rick Cagan, who heads NAMI Kansas, says the state’s system of community mental health centers is supposed to provide help for Kansans with mental illness, regardless of their ability to pay. But budget cuts have left public mental health providers unable to meet the needs…