Gov. Jay Nixon today spoke at the monthly meeting of the Missouri Mental Health Commission to discuss how accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid will help families and strengthen communities by expanding access to mental health care.
"Right now, many people with severe mental illness only get treatment when they reach a crisis point," Gov. Nixon said. "That's too late. Now, by accepting federal dollars to strengthen our Medicaid system, we have a unique opportunity to help thousands of Missourians with mental illness get access to early, effective treatments - at no cost to the state for the first three years."
Under the proposed expansion, federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs of expanding Medicaid to uninsured Missourians making less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level for the first three calendar years. This will bring a total of $5.7 billion back to Missouri and provide coverage to an additional 300,000 Missourians - at no cost to the state. An estimated 50,000 of these previously uninsured Missourians would seek mental health services, including treatment for serious mental illness. An individual living at 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level in 2013 makes $15,856 a year.
"Currently, young adults with serious mental illness only become Medicaid-eligible after being determined disabled through a lengthy and difficult process. Too often, these vulnerable young people go years without treatment, resulting in tragic consequences for families and communities," Gov. Nixon said. "Expanding Medicaid will help these vulnerable individuals get access to the treatment they need, before it's too late."
The Governor also discussed how his budget includes $10 million to strengthen Missouri's mental health system by helping to identify and treat people with severe mental illness before they reach crisis point, and help communities respond to those who do. The Governor's proposal includes $3.6 million to place Mental Health Liaisons at each of the 29 Community Mental Health Centers across Missouri. These mental health professionals will work with courts, law enforcement, and families to help individuals with mental illness receive proper treatment.
To help educate and train more teachers, law enforcement, clergy, employers and families on how to recognize, respond to and care for those with mental illness, Gov. Nixon's proposal includes $450,000 to expand Crisis Intervention and Mental Health First-Aid training. Mental Health First-Aid training will be targeted toward groups that are likely to encounter people in mental health crises - teachers, law enforcement, clergy, and employers - so they can identify and respond to the early warning signs of mental illness.
The plan also includes $6 million to fund emergency room intervention teams. These teams of mental health professionals could respond quickly when an emergency room requests assistance, and begin working with a patient to coordinate care.
These funding proposals were included in the Governor's recommended balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which has been presented to the General Assembly.
To learn more about the Governor's balanced budget proposal, please visit MO.gov.