Chicago’s Mental Health System Is Failing – What Must Be Done
At the time of the City’s mental health clinic closings in 2012, the Chicago Department of Public Health claimed the move would boost efficiencies, result in high-quality care, and make services available for the uninsured. HDA’s analysis shows these predictions were not borne out:
- CDPH sees at least 16% fewer clients than it did in 2013.
- The City now has just 1.5 FTE psychiatrists to serve patients at 6 clinics.
- State grant funding to CDPH has fallen by 98% in 10 years, from $8.5 million in 2005 to less than $175,000 this year.
- CDPH fails to meet standards for mental health service delivery. In 2013, CDPH’s State review score was just 52%; by 2015, it had plummeted to 26%, resulting in suspended Medicaid billing.
- CDPH’s decision not to join health plans means that City mental health clients are not receiving integrated care and staff are not held to the same quality standards as plan providers.
This decline in service happened despite CDPH’s increased investment of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars between 2011 and 2015.
What's Wrong With This Picture?
The Governor’s proposed $87 million reduction in mental health grants, along with cuts in Medicaid, will devastate an already fragile mental health system in Chicago. It is crucial to address the quality of care being provided to patients and the fact that increasing financial investments aren’t improving services.
We call on Mayor Emanuel and CDPH Commissiner Dr. Julie Morita to stabilize and restore the City’s mental health services. Specifically:
- CDPH needs to identify qualified community providers to assume operations of the six remaining mental health centers. This approach – which reflects public-sector best practices - will ensure that services continue without interruption, at the same location, and that patients are not lost to care. CDPH should cover uncompensated care and services for the underinsured with grants.
- CDPH needs to stick to the role of public health: health promotion and monitoring population health. Any savings from contracting with qualified providers, Corporate CDBG dollars and/ or future casino revenue must be re-invested in providers and activities aimed at improving mental health prevention and mental health promotion services for justice-involved populations, children, and the homeless.
In tough fiscal times all stakeholders must pull together and focus on doing what each does best. CDPH does an excellent job of convening partners and supporting agencies proficient in their respective areas. It does not, however, do a good job of providing clinical mental health services. Chicagoans need access to quality mental health services and supports.
See the full report http://bit.ly/ChiMH-WWWTP