Late last week, we received word from Value Options, the state's private insurance provider for mental health services for the very poor, that cuts in benefits would be forthcoming tomorrow (December 1).
The funding action taken responds to the very disappointing level of support from the state legislature in its last session.
The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance believes that adjustments in the latest funding plan need to be forthcoming to protect consumers who are most vulnerable. Among the necessary adjustments, the following should be carefully considered and resolved as quickly as possible:
• The reduction of the case rate for indigent populations to $100 per month from $140 per month will leave many homeless individuals without case management services.
• Homeless individuals with mental illnesses and addictions have few natural supports in place to help them negotiate services systems and ensure their basic needs are met.
• The majority of the 2000 formerly homeless individuals with mental disorders and addictions who now live in supportive housing need the vital case management services now provided.
• It is crucial that a clear case management plan for homeless individuals, those in supportive housing, individuals leaving the jail and those returning from the state hospital be crafted and communicated to the field quickly.
• Note: The estimated cost of serving people with mental illness who are homeless is three time higher than for consumers who are in stable housing because of the increased incidence of crisis and subsequent rates of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and incarcerations among those who have no homes of their own.
• Homeless Individuals, including parents in families who are homeless, should be considered a priority population and services should remain whole for these populations.
Again, the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable among us take the hit in the public policy decisions of the State of Texas. We must find a way to do things differently and more effectively.