In New York State, suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents. With adequate mental health care, perhaps many of those deaths could have been prevented. However, in the face of rising teen suicides, New York State plans to reduce access to mental health care for children.
At the end of 2019, New York State cut reimbursement rates for behavioral health services for children and families eligible for Medicaid. These services were provided through a program called Children and Family Treatment and Support Services. Medicaid provides healthcare coverage to roughly one-third of the state. That number includes more than 200,000 children and adolescents with mental health problems.
Already a Struggle
Children across the state already struggle to get the mental health care they need. Many languish on waiting lists for care. They regularly wait for weeks or even months to receive care for sometimes serious mental illness. For every 10,000 children in New York, there are only two child psychiatrists. In much of the state, mental health care is provided by small community programs that will not be able to provide assistance if their reimbursement rates are cut.
These community centers are already struggling. The new reimbursement rates will cover face to face visits with children but will not provide funding for travel, taking case notes, laptops, and back-up staff. Many small health care providers will be destroyed by the cuts in funding.
In New York, as in most places, mental health programs struggle with high turnover and unfilled positions. This is due to the low pay and intense workload required by these providers. Further cuts will be devastating to the mental health care system, and it is the children of New York who will suffer. Many families will be forced to turn to local hospitals for their care. Community-based programs provide the most effective mental health care. Cuts to these programs will be harmful.
If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disabilities. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.