In a short-sighted move that will only result in larger bills for the city down the road, Chicago is shutting down half of its 12 mental health clinics. The mental health clinics serve lower income families, and those who can least afford to pay for behavioral healthcare services.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided to shutter 6 of the city’s 12 clinics in his 2012 budget, after Gov. Quinn’s budget cuts to the state budget drastically reduced state payments for mental health services across Illinois.
Illinois, like many states, usually finds it easiest to cut public mental health services first, because mental health has few lobbyists that work on behalf of the population most affected — the poor.
If, however, a mental health or developmentally disabled program has federal funding through Medicaid, the state is more than happy to continue such programs. There seems to be little trouble taking federal funds to support such programs, yet states are often the first to decry any conditions attached to such funding.
This is not the first time Chicago has shut down a portion of its mental health services. The last shut down occurred in 2009 and 2010, when clinics were shuttered for a time due to lack of funding.
Of course, the spin doctors were in full swing, suggesting the closings were a good thing because “reforms” are actually expanding access to mental health services:
Mental health commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair said the department reforms are expanding access to mental health services and increasing support for the uninsured.
How Dr. Bechara Choucair can make such a claim at the same time a city of nearly 3 million people will have only half its clinics is astounding. With just six clinics operating, that means a single clinic will have to serve a population of 500,000. We’d love to hear how cutting staff and physical service locations will actually result in “expanding access.”
Protestors say they will continue to keep up the protests in front of the offices of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
We say — Keep them going!! You have our support because Chicago citizens deserve a minimal level of public mental health, one that’s served by more than six clinics.
Read the full article: Protesters decry closing of mental health clinics in Chicago