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Kansas Governor calls for better service integration

March 18, 2014
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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Governor says that improved integration is the key to restoring lost mental health funding

In a recent speech to members of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition who were meeting in Topeka, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said that too much mental health treatment takes place in the state's prison system. 

“A lot of your mental health is being done by Corrections. Well, okay, this isn’t the place to do it. Or if you are going to that there, you’ve got to have it integrated better," he remarked.

Then, he called for more early and emergency intervention for people with mental health problems. “As a society we need to start addressing and treating mental illness as just that, an illness that is treatable,” Brownback told the crowd of about 300 people.

In the face of calls for the state to restore $15 million in cuts to its community mental health system since 2008 - a time before Brownback entered office - the Governor asked for time, noting that his Governor’s Mental Health Task Force will be issuing recommendations on how to better integrate mental health services between government agencies in coming weeks. He said that such integration could free up additional funds that would help to close the gap. He also touted the Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City, which will open in April.

When advocates asked why the Governor was opposed to Medicaid expansion in the state - an expansion that would bring health benefits to 65,000 Kansans served in community mental health centers - he argued that covering poor people who lack physical or mental disabilities would limit state's ability to accommodate disabled individuals already on state waiting lists.