Leading from the Left

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Reform the Reform

You may have read that the Caring Family Network will be "consoildating" their operations at the end of the month. "Consolidation" is just a nice way of saying that they will be reducing their hours of operation at their Hillsborough clinic and reducing access to health care for people in our county.

North Carolina's mental health system is in near total collapse. The reduction of services that Family Care Networks has announced is only a symptom of a problem that is in fact much worse. As you know, several years ago the state embarked on what amounts to a privatization of mental health services. They called it reform.

There are some public services should not be privatized; the needs of our citizens in some cases are much better met by a well-managed government program. Mental Health services are, in my opinion, one area that should not ever have been privatized. Providing care to those with mental illness is not profitable--period. As someone said to me the other day, "It's just not a sustainable business."

So what happens when these private providers can't turn a profit? They cut back on services. And that's exactly what the Caring Family Network has done. The Hillsborough clinic that they now operate has been in operation for 38 years. CFN is reducing the clinic schedule from 5 days a week to 2.

What's the effect of this reduction? I've learned that somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 patients are now having to find care elsewhere. The state's reform was supposed to improve mental health care in NC, instead it's only hurting the people who need help the most. It's time to reform the reform.