Los Angeles County Budget Proposal Includes Funding Cuts to Mental Health, Other Programs
Los Angeles County officials on Monday presented a $17 billion spending proposal for fiscal year 2004-2005 that includes reductions to mental health services and other programs, the Los Angeles Times reports. County officials have proposed reducing funding and services for the third consecutive year, in part because of increasing employee costs, such as retiree health benefits and workers' compensation. To cut $269 million from its operations in FY 2004-2005, which begins in July, county officials recommended a $47.8 million decrease in funding for the county Department of Mental Health. Dr. Marvin Southard, director of the department, estimated that the proposed reductions would eliminate services for about 10,000 patients currently receiving treatment through county mental health programs and clinics. If the funding cuts are approved, county DMH also would have to limit the provision of prescription drugs, psychotherapy and other services to people without health insurance.
In the face of the expected budget cuts, county DMH is supporting a proposed ballot initiative to fund mental health services (Fox, Los Angeles Times, 4/20). The initiative would levy a 1% tax on personal incomes that exceed $1 million annually to fund expanded mental health services statewide. Signatures to qualify the initiative for the Nov. 2 statewide ballot are in the process of being certified (California Healthline, 4/15). Southard said, "This is not the way to run government, by putting everything on the ballot to make sure we have money," adding, "But on the other hand, what choice do we have?" (Los Angeles Times, 4/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.