Santa Clara County Budget Cuts Slated for Mental Health Services
Mental health care services likely will be affected most significantly as Santa Clara County cuts spending on programs to address a projected general fund shortfall of $172.4 million for fiscal year 2008-2009, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
On Monday, County CEO Pete Kutras released his budget proposal for FY 2008-2009, detailing general fund spending of $2.2 billion, down from $2.3 billion in the current fiscal year.
Including funds from Medi-Cal and other state and federal programs that the county administers, the total budget for the upcoming fiscal year stands at $3.9 billion, a drop from $4.7 billion this year. However, the component of the county budget that deals with such funding cannot be finalized until state lawmakers approve a budget plan and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signs it.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (de Sá, San Jose Mercury News, 5/6).
In a preview of the budget proposal on Monday, the Mercury News reported that about $8 million would be cut from the county mental health department, accounting for about one-third of departmental cuts. To achieve the cuts, the county is expected to:
- Shift about a quarter of its mental health patients from team-based care to "drop-in/self-help centers," according to county Mental Health Director Nancy Pena; and
- Redirect most patients who seek care at an emergency department specially targeted at mental health care to urgent care centers.
According to the Mercury News, the county is shifting the delivery of mental health services to new programs in part to take advantage of funding from Proposition 63. The 2004 state law increased the state income tax on high-income Californians to provide funds for mental health care.
Proposition 63 funds can only be used to fund new programs (Lohse, San Jose Mercury News, 5/5). 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.