Sunday, June 17, 2018
Health

Senate plan includes big cuts to mental health programs

TALLAHASSEE — Programs that serve mentally ill patients or addicts could see their state funding zeroed out this year under a Senate budget proposal.

The proposal would slash overall state spending on adult mental health and substance abuse treatment by about 40 percent, or $87 million.

The cuts would include eliminating state support for some programs entirely — including potentially Northside Mental Health Center in Tampa.

It's not that alcoholics, drug addicts or the mentally ill don't need the help, said Sen. Joe Negron, the Stuart Republican in charge of the Senate's health care budget. But Negron said he would rather make these cuts than reduce spending on programs for the disabled, the elderly and children.

"When it comes to funding, an 85-year-old woman in a nursing home matters more to me than a 45-year-old guy with a substance abuse problem," he said. "It's all about priorities."

The Senate proposal differs greatly from the budget passed last week in the House, which called for an additional $32 million in treatment funds. The Senate plan has been criticized by both providers, who stand to lose millions in state funding, as well as law enforcement officials who warn there will be a trickle-down effect that could drain state resources.

"We know that if we don't get it (help), they'll be in our jail and they'll be victimizing our constituents," said Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, who serves as the Florida Sheriffs Association's legislative chair.

Mark Fontaine, executive director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, said the cuts may save money in the short term but ignore the savings that prevention and intervention programs provide. "It's cheaper to treat somebody than it is to put them in a prison," he said. "It's cheaper to treat somebody than it is to take their children away in child welfare. It's cheaper to treat somebody than for them to show up at the emergency room."

Like many providers around the state, Marsha Lewis Brown has also started lobbying her local legislators to reject Negron's plan. As executive director of Northside Mental Health Center in Tampa, she serves more than 4,300 severely and persistently mentally ill patients each year. "With funding cuts like the magnitude of these, where would the folks end up?" she said.

Brown understands the challenge lawmakers face trying to balance the budget and close a nearly $2 billion shortfall. But doing it at the expense of addicts and the mentally ill doesn't seem right, she said.

"It makes it sound as if we don't understand and appreciate that mental illness is comparable to a primary illness," she said. "You can't ignore a diabetic who needs insulin. Just like you can't ignore a schizophrenic person who needs medication and needs support."

Tia Mitchell can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

The extensive government trial was intended to settle an age-old question about alcohol and diet: Does a daily cocktail or beer really protect against heart attacks and stroke?To find out, the National Institutes of Health gave scientists $100 millio...
Published: 06/16/18
More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults are taking prescription drugs, including hormones for contraception, blood pressure medications and medicines for heartburn, that carry a potential risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Courtney Bilyeu was running toward the murky water alongside a few military officers when it happened.She was an accountant for the U.S. Navy at the time. And on her way to take a swim with some coworkers in a California beach, she saw blood. The wat...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

The next time you head to the drugstore to buy sunscreen, don’t forget to pick up some sunglasses, too. That’s because both products work to protect your body from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.Wearing sunglasses for protection should not be re...
Published: 06/09/18
In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

ST. PETERSBURG — Kidney disease doesn’t discriminate.The crowd of more than 200 patients who gathered at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort range in age from teenagers to seniors. They are of different ethnicities and come from all over the...
Published: 06/08/18
Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

YES, MELANOMAS CAN BEGIN IN THE EYEIs it true that melanoma can develop in the eyes? If so, how common is it? How is it treated?Melanomas can begin in the eye, a condition called intraocular melanoma. Treatment for intraocular melanomas used to prima...
Published: 06/08/18
For writer, using a heart rate monitor takes HIIT from frightening to fun

For writer, using a heart rate monitor takes HIIT from frightening to fun

High-intensity interval training is one of the biggest trends in fitness, but it has always seemed a bit scary to me. To a mere mortal with achy knees and an aging body, even the acronym — HIIT — sounded intimidating.But recently, I overcame my fears...
Published: 06/08/18
Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: ‘dragged’

Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: ‘dragged’

By KATIE WORKMANOne of the amazing things about Italian food is that the best dishes are often so completely, refreshingly simple. Like, four-ingredient simple. (We don’t count olive oil and salt. Or water. Or air.) I love broccoli. I can roast brocc...
Published: 06/08/18
What to get Dad? Try a Father’s Day gift that will do him good

What to get Dad? Try a Father’s Day gift that will do him good

Dads are notoriously tough to shop for. They’re not all that great at dropping hints, the way moms do, and if you ask what your dad might want or need for Father’s Day, he’ll likely say, "Nothing" or "Don’t spend your money" or "I just want to be wit...
Published: 06/08/18
Tampa council hears mixed messages on free-roaming roosters in Ybor City

Tampa council hears mixed messages on free-roaming roosters in Ybor City

TAMPA — Ybor City roosters and chickens can peck away in peace. For now.The Tampa City Council asked city attorneys and code enforcement officials Thursday to continue studying how to reduce the growing flock in the city’s historic heart, but no acti...
Published: 06/07/18