Lawmakers are concerned about skyrocketing costs in Missouri for mental health

JEFFERSON CITY — A panel of state lawmakers raised questions Monday about increasing costs at the state’s mental health agency.

Republican members of the House Subcommittee on State Funding for Social Service Programs have expressed concern about the proposed nearly $300 million increase in the Department of Mental Health.

In the agency’s proposed budget for substance abuse treatment, for example, costs increase by about 28%.

“Almost heartbreaking,” said Rep. John Black, R. Marshfield, who chairs the committee.

Administration Director Valerie Hone attributed the additional costs for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to projected growth across the agency, but said substance abuse treatment remains on an upward trajectory.

“This is an issue that is growing across our state,” said Hone.

People also read…

  • Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock’s show at the Enterprise Center, wasn’t funny to some
  • Mountain lion collision with car in Franklin County. “This wonderful big beast.”
  • Editorial: While California is backing off mass shootings, it is still safer than Missouri
  • Major insurance companies have discontinued new policies for Kyas and Hyundais amid a surge in thefts in the St. Louis area
  • “Don’t Call” Chesterfield land suits the couple with great provisions from telemarketers
  • Hidden Hangouts: 12 St. Louis Gems You May Not Know About
  • After winter rejuvenation in The Lab, Paul DeJonge looks forward to a crucial spring with the Cardinals
  • With annual losses running at $25 million, Webster University is looking to keep student focus in check
  • The winter mix causes multiple crashes across the St. Louis metro
  • Former St. Louis news anchor Vic Faust sued his co-worker
  • McCarthy bans Schiff and Swalwell from the Intel panel; Germany’s OKs tanks for Ukraine; the following Baseball Hall of Famer; and more
  • St. Louis Chefs, Bakery & Bar are among the 2023 James Beard Award semi-finalists
  • Glass artist Chihuly will bring his “most ambitious” exhibition to the Missouri Botanical Garden
  • After the Local Low, Letter from the Blues Players to Doug Armstrong: Sale
  • Beloved St. Louis puppeteer Bob Kramer is believed dead in the fire

Hoon said that many people do not know how to access state services, which leads to crisis situations that require more costly intervention from the state.

“If they can’t access the things they need, things will only get worse,” Hone said.

In addition, the department continues to mirror other parts of state government that are facing serious staffing challenges, which has led to yet another call by Governor Mike Parson to increase salaries for workers, who are among the lowest paid in the country.

There are an estimated 1,600 vacancies in the $3.8 billion department, which should include about 7,200 workers.

“Our staff is still problematic,” Hone said.

In addition to Wages increased by 8.7%.The governor is asking lawmakers to approve a $2-per-hour increase for employees who work night shifts. The current shift difference is 30 cents, which has resulted in an estimated 400 vacancies at the state’s primary mental hospital in Fulton.

“This is really important to us,” Hon said.

Hoon said the state is considering moving the sex offender unit in Fulton to a location where staffing isn’t as much of an issue.

Competitors for the slots include a general dollar depot South Fulton, where wages are comparable to support staff in a mental hospital.

“You’ll make more money and not be assaulted and spit on,” said Rep. Mike Stevens, R-Bolívar.

“It’s a workforce issue,” Hon said.

The governor wants lawmakers to get a pay rise by March 1, while other parts of the state budget are not expected to be finalized by the House and Senate until early May.

Hoon said staffing problems have resulted in 225 individuals being held in prison while they await an assignment at a state psychiatric treatment facility.

In addition, Hoon said, another 600 who need services for developmental disabilities are not in a suitable position. Some are waiting to be admitted to hospitals, while another 27 are in homeless shelters.

The governor’s proposal calls for $3.7 million to address the shortage of beds in hospitals and prisons by providing funding for treatment and case management services Persons who remain in custody Until they can be placed in a Department of Mental Health facility or considered eligible for trial.

Like other agencies, inflation plays a role in the budget process. In the department’s budget request, officials are asking for more than $800,000 to cover growing food costs at state institutions.

The department is also seeking an additional $1 million to help pay for the 988 suicide crisis hotline, which was launched this year.

Leave a Comment