Budget woes: Dept. of Mental Health announces plans to eliminate outpatient services

ODMHSAS Commissioner Terri White announces the plan to eliminate outpatient services state wide due to budget cuts. (KOKH/Emily Collins)

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has announced plans to eliminate all state-funded outpatient services they will have to make if more funds are not appropriated to the agency.

The agency announced Oct. 18 that the cuts will be initiated in November and will be fully implemented in December and January if additional funds are not appropriated by Dec. 1. All outpatient services except for medications will be hit by the loss. The agency lost $75 million from their budget when a "tobacco cessation" fee was ruled unconstitutional.

The cut represents 23 percent of the agency's budget and will lead to the loss of $106 million in federal matching funds. 700 agencies across the state will be impacted by the cuts. ODMHSAS Commissioner Terri White said they hope a solution is found in time to keep the cuts from happening.

"At the same time, as of now, we must move forward with plans and to allow those plans to move forward without notifying all impacted would be unfair and irresponsible. These cuts are unbearable and will decimate our state's behavioral health care system," White said.

White says that services will be lost for indigent and behavorial health Medicaid eligible clients as well as the residential treatment services for children. Drug and mental health courts will no longer be funded. White reports that law enforcement agencies are already predicting an uptick in jail population and crime if the cuts have to be made.

Lawmakers have been discussing a solution for the budget hole since a special session convened last month. Governor Mary Fallin says she is disappointed in the lack of progress in the special session.

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