Press Releases

Mental Health Cuts; Top 10 States and other State by State Data Released; Medicaid Squeeze is Part of the Crisis

Jan 01 2011

Washington, D.C. — The nation's mental health crisis is continuing to deepen as a result of state budget cuts and shifts of funds to Medicaid, according to a special report released today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Examining budgets approved for 2012 by state legislatures around the country, the report documents a total of $1.6 billion in cuts by individual states from fiscal years (FY) 2009 to 2012.

The 10 states with the greatest proportion of cuts in mental health care from FY2009 to 2012 are:

  1. South Carolina 39.3 percent
  2. Alabama 36.0 percent
  3. Alaska 32.6 percent
  4. Illinois 31.7 percent
  5. Nevada 28.1 percent
  6. District of Columbia 23.9 percent
  7. California 21.2 percent
  8. Idaho 17.9 percent
  9. Kansas 12.4 percent
  10. Mississippi 10.4 percent

See the full report for state by state data.

Even states that struggled to restore previous levels of mental health spending were unable to compensate for damage already done and to prepare for challenges that lie ahead.

"The mental health crisis is not just about state budge cuts. It also involves Medicaid," said NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick.

  • Following expiration in June 2011 of "enhanced" federal matching funds under Medicaid that were provided as part of economic stimulus legislation, states were squeezed by the loss of an estimated $14 billion, inevitably affecting mental health care.
  • In order to receive more federal funds under the current Medicaid "match" formula, states such as Arizona and Ohio have begun to divert mental health dollars to Medicaid.
  • If the congressional "Super Committee" recommends cuts in Medicaid in weeks ahead, additional pressures will come into play. Proposals for cuts in Medicaid have ranged from $75 to almost $200 billion.

"People with life-threatening mental illness are being abandoned," Fitzpatrick said.

"The more that mental health care is provided through Medicaid, the greater the risk exists that uninsured or underinsured individuals won't receive the help they need."

"It is important to meet the needs of Medicaid enrollees, but not at the expense of uninsured or underinsured individuals living with serious mental illness."

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness.