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Mental health officials brace for budget cuts

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
The Mo. Mental Health Commission meets in Jefferson City.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – Officials with the Missouri Department of Mental Health are bracing for more budget cuts.

Governor Jay Nixon announced last month that an additional $350 million will need to be trimmed from next year's spending plan because of lower revenues, and because lawmakers failed to eliminate two state holidays and pass other money-saving bills.

Jan Heckemeyer is the Mental Health department's Deputy Director for Administration.

"We have been in discussions with the governor's Budget Office," Heckemeyer said. "We do know they are looking at a...gap that they need to close, so we would expect the Department of Mental Health will participate in closing that gap."

Heckemeyer adds that none of their Medicaid-eligible programs have been cut, and she doesn't expect them to be when Governor Nixon signs the state budget into law later this month. And she says they're looking for ways to have the feds and the private sector shoulder more of the financial burden.

"It's forced us to be very innovative and really take a hard look at all of our services and identifying areas where we are funding with a hundred percent general revenue that we can convert to a Medicaid service, so the state's share and participation is much lower," Heckemeyer said.

Lawmakers have already cut nearly $26 million from the Mental Health department's budget, which Heckemeyer says led to the decisions to downsize Fulton State Hospital and to eliminate acute care services at facilities in St. Louis and Farmington.

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