Differing views of mental health funding

Our March 22 Eagle editorial, “Speak now on budget,” referred to the unsuccessful effort by state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, to amend the Senate budget plan “to help community mental health centers recover from the deep cuts they’ve sustained.” That drew an e-mail to the editorial board from Shawn Sullivan, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, who said “the mental health centers have not received deep cuts” and cited, among other increases, an “increase of $209 million in fiscal year 2011 to $252 million in fiscal year 2014 (budget projection) for total community mental health center funding.” Sullivan’s perspective differs sharply from that of Michael J. Hammond, executive director of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, who has said that mental health reform dollars, which are what the system relies on to serve the uninsured and underinsured, have been “reduced by 50 percent since fiscal year 2008” and that “funding cuts to mental health reform dollars continue to place the public mental health system at a breaking point.”