The Economy Project
12:36 pm
Mon February 1, 2010

Kansas Mental Health Centers Stretched Thin

Kansas City, MO – A third of community mental health centers in Kansas are operating in the red. Nine out of 27 spent more than they took in last year, according to the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

This year's revenue may not be any better for centers, now that the state's also enacted a ten percent cut to Medicaid reimbursements, according to the SRS's Rick Shults.

"That concerns us and is something we need to monitor," he says, "because if they've already had that experience and then we're going into a situation where revenue is going down even more to them, we're going to want to make sure that they remain viable and continue to operate."

David Wiebe, executive director of Johnson County Mental Health Center, says their financial situation is stable.

"My greater concern is, will we have the capacity to serve everyone in our community who needs service?" says Wiebe.

He says the center is currently holding 25 staff positions vacant because of funding cutbacks. That has meant fewer and less effective services for people who are not in immediate crisis. Wiebe says, in general, he's worried more people could wind up in the state hospital or criminal justice system if they're unable to get the level of support they need.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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