Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Health Care Is In The Toilet

Or at least health care for the California mentally ill.  Here's how it works.  Counties get funds with which to provide services to the chronically mentally ill.  Those funds are called County General Funds and are based on fees generated by licensing automobiles.  The most expensive license plates are those for new cars.  Guess what!  No one is buying new cars so the fees have dropped way down.
In the meantime, people have lost their jobs and thus their benefits.  So folks who suffered from manageable mental illnesses can no longer benefit from their psychiatrists or their medications because, duh, they no longer have health insurance because, another duh, they are no longer employed.  No new car, no health insurance, no job, and soon no home.
Say a county receives a million dollars in County General Funds.  Cut the million down to eight hundred thousand because of said scenario.  Not all of that goes to direct services.
Here's how it works.
MediCal pays fifty cents on the dollar.  I bill MediCal a dollar and I get back fifty cents.  Weird, Huh?  That's what the County General funds are for.  So I can never provide more services than I can match fifty cents on the dollar.
And then there's the chronically mentally ill who don't have MediCal.  What do I do with those people?
And where do I hospitalize them and what kind of medications do I give them.
Sometimes there are no psychiatric hosptial beds available in all of Los Angeles County and I've got someone in my office who more than anything wants to commit suicide.
Welcome to my day.
Welcome to health care on the skids.
Who needs health care reform?
All of us even those of us who are employed with good benefits because this just isn't right.
Thanks for listening.  Now let your representative or senator know that you care about social justice because you know a social worker who lives each day in the trenches and sees the cracks getting wider and wider.

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