What the State Aid Bill Can’t Fix
There are 10,000 examples like this one, from Texas:
Leon Evans is used to doing more with less. But with the state facing an estimated $18 billion budget shortfall, even Evans is dreading the spending cuts to come. Evans runs the Center for Health Care Services, the local mental health authority in San Antonio. The people who operate public mental health clinics in Texas have to be efficient, and Evans has become creative at finding ways to treat as many people as possible.
The state provides the Center for Health Care Services enough money to treat about 4,200 patients each month. The center stretches those funds to serve more than 6,000 clients. Still, it’s not even close to meeting demand. Thousands with severe mental illnesses go without treatment.
The center has also worked with hospitals and law enforcement to create some of the most innovative jail-diversion programs in the country. Those programs combined keep about 1,000 people a month out of the Bexar County jail, placing them in treatment programs instead.
**Those innovative programs, which save taxpayer money, are now at risk. **“Taxpayers end up paying anyway,” Evans said. “If you can’t deliver services one way, then [people] end up going to emergency rooms and to jails and eventually to prison if they don’t get mental health and substance abuse treatment.”