Please go to the Portland Press Herald to read the full article.
Signing L.D. 775 would expand and restore much-needed support services for people with mental illness.
By: Lori K. Garmlich – Special to the Press Herald
Everyone deserves access to the health care they need to live safe and stable lives in their own communities. That includes mental health services. But here in Maine, we are falling short of providing that access. Our mental health care system is fractured, causing some of our most vulnerable citizens to slip through the cracks. It’s a problem that has gotten worse, not better, in recent years.
In 2016, under then-Gov. Paul LePage, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services drastically cut eligibility to Section 17 community support services under MaineCare. These services – including community integrative case management, daily living supports and more, for folks with chronic and persistent mental health challenges – play a crucial role in the health and well-being of the people and families who depend on them. LePage’s cuts resulted in nearly 5,500 people losing the critically important services they rely on daily.
When individuals are unable to access these services, they are at increased risk of losing their housing, and becoming homeless or ending up in residential treatment facilities or, worse, incarcerated. They have been left struggling to fill the void when the services they depended on were eliminated. Additionally, facilities that had provided these and other services were forced to close when these changes were initially implemented. That has left those most in need without resources to lead independent lives. Aside from the needless and tragic human cost, these outcomes cost our state far more in terms of dollars.