City Council says budget cuts will only make mental-health crisis worse

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 15, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 16 at 12:29 AM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- State mental health cuts loom large in New Orleans.

A special meeting Wednesday at City Hall was designed so that City Council members could learn more about the full impact of the cuts.

The meeting got pretty heated, as local leaders and healthcare professionals railed against the proposed cuts.

Local leaders say those cuts are now expected to have real consequences, making a mental-health crisis in the city even worse.

The interim public hospital in New Orleans is expected to take a $15 million hit as LSU takes steps to close an expected $29 million budget hole.

That will mean eliminating the chemical detox unit and closing beds in the emergency department, mental health emergency extension and psychiatric inpatient unit.

Earlier this week Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration pointed a finger at LSU, saying the deep reductions are the result of shoddy management, overspending and poor bookkeeping by the university.

LSU leaders claim the cuts are the outcome of midyear budget reductions made by Jindal in December and the unexpected loss of federal funds.

City leaders have called the reduction nonsensical.

Wednesday afternoon council members accused the governor of moving money away from public health rather than cutting Medicaid payments to private healthcare providers.

Councilman Jon Johnson said he invited the governor to appear before his council health and welfare committee next week to explain the cuts. He said the governor has yet to accept the invitation.

 

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