Fallin lays out plan for mental health increases
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/24/13 at 3:42 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Mary Fallin said Wednesday she will ask lawmakers for $16 million to pay for more mental health services.
Fallin and legislative leaders spoke to reporters Wednesday in advance of her Feb. 4 State-of-the-State address to the Oklahoma Legislature assembled in a joint session.
"If we just look at the recent tragedy of the Sandy Hook school shootings, it reminds us of what can happen when mental health issues go unaddressed in a state or undiagnosed or frankly ignored," Fallin said.
On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He then committed suicide. It was the second-deadliest school shooting in the nation's history. Earlier that day, he shot and killed his mother.
Of the $16 million, some $8 million will go for existing programs and $8 million is in funds for expanded new services through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said Alex Weintz, a Fallin spokesman.
The funds will be used to build a third crisis center, Fallin said.
The centers provide access to emergency mental health care, Fallin said.
Funds last year were provided to build two, she said. One center will be in Tulsa while another will be in Ardmore, Weintz said.
The department will determine where the third center is to be built, Weintz said.
"Those centers can offer hope and certainly help to people that are on the brink of succumbing to mental health challenges and problems," Fallin said.
She is seeking more funding for services for children with serious emotional disturbances and their families, she said.
"By increasing their funding, we can make sure our children receive the treatment they need to be healthy, productive, happy adults and helpfully prevent them from ending up in a correctional or juvenile facility," Fallin said.
In addition, more needs to be done to prevent depression, suicide and prescription drug abuse, Fallin said.
She said she will ask Terri White, Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, to develop a substance abuse prevention and treatment initiative.
Fallin said she is also proposing $40 million to go to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to provide coverage for those who are Medicaid eligible but have not enrolled.
She said thousands more Oklahomans will sign up in order to avoid financial penalties imposed by the federal healthcare reform bill on those who do not have health insurance.
She defended her position not to expand Medicaid coverage under the act, saying the state could not afford to do so.
Original Print Headline: Fund hike for mental health is requested
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Gov. Mary Fallin: The governor wants the state to build a third crisis center for mental health care. "Those centers can offer hope," Fallin said.