KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Calif. Revamping Mental Health Services

As the state shifts emphasis to the most serious patients in hospitals and prisons, other groups raise concerns.

The Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle: California Overhauls Mental Health Department
California has begun transitioning its mental health services program to concentrate care on the most serious patients residing in state mental hospitals and prisons, but the cost-cutting move is raising concerns about patient care from state workers. The state announced last week it will hand off more responsibility for public mental health programs to counties as part of Gov. Jerry Brown's ongoing push to move services to California's local governments. The administration says the reorganization will allow the state to form a new Department of State Hospitals that focuses exclusively on 6,300 patients in state hospitals and prisons (Lin, 12/12).

California Healthline: Two Faces of Mental Health Treatment In California
A major overhaul of the way California deals with mental health is underway, partly in response to safety issues at mental hospitals, partly in response to Department of Justice oversight, partly in anticipation of federal health care reform and partly because of a major realignment shifting management and funding for many mental health services from the state to counties (Lauer, 12/12). 

Meanwhile, the battle between federal officials and New Hampshire over the state's mental health services continues:

New Hampshire Public Radio: Feds Blast NH Mental Health System
In a strongly worded letter, the U. S. Department of Justice has concluded the state's mental health system is "broken" and "in crisis." ... The Department finds the state lacks key services, like housing, crisis intervention and employment support. That leaves people with mental illness trapped in state institutions because there's no money to fund alternatives (Gorenstein, 12/9). 

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