Advocates urge lawmakers to address inadequate mental health resources in Kansas

Mar 16, 2017

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Scores of Kansans concerned about inadequate mental health resources visited the Kansas Statehouse on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to take notice of the issue. 

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the effects of cuts to Medicaid providers, lack of access to Osawatomie State Hospital and staffing cuts at community mental health centers were among concerns raised by advocates who believe Kansas could do much more to help people experiencing mental illness.

Tim Keck, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, highlighted the importance of speaking openly about mental health.

Richard Cagan, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Kansas, said implementing effective support systems takes commitment and the state’s mental health system has faced “years of neglect” and underfunding.

Among their concerns about underfunding, mental health and health advocates have urged the Legislature to restore a 4 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursements that health care providers receive.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a bill that seeks to replace that loss of funding through fees assessed to health maintenance organizations.