Polk commissioners approve resolution in support of mental health funding

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Local cuts total $5 million

COLUMBUS – The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution last week in support of the state providing adequate funding for mental health services in Polk County.

Commissioners met June 5 and heard from commissioner vice-chair Jake Johnson, who added the resolution to the agenda.

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Johnson said the resolution came from the Vaya Health board, of which he is a member, which covers Polk and 22 other counties.

Johnson said the Vaya Health board approved the resolution as an advisory board and also sent the resolution to all 23 counties to approve.

The state of North Carolina has cut a lot of funding for mental health services, Johnson said, with Johnson adding the state is in a much better position to fund those services than counties.

“I think it’s a good thing to pass onto Raleigh,” Johnson said.

Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said the county will see the cuts to funding locally, as those in need will wind up in the local department of social services, the local jail and hospital.

Johnson said the reduction overall was a large number, somewhere around $90 million.

Pittman said locally the cut was $5 million.

Following is the resolution commissioners approved last week:

Resolution of Support for Adequate Funding to meet the Mental Health, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Use Disorder service needs for citizens of Polk County

WHEREAS, Polk County is a member of Vaya Health, the area authority for twenty-three (23) western North Carolina counties that make up Vaya’s Catchment Area;

WHEREAS, Polk County knows that citizens dealing with mental illness and substance use disorders can achieve recovery with the right services and supports, and that citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities can live productive lives in our communities with appropriate services and supports; and

WHEREAS, the need for services and supports for these individuals is increasing due to North Carolina’s growing population and the opioid epidemic in North Carolina and across the United States; and

WHEREAS, Vaya Health achieved savings through prudent and successful management of the Medicaid 1915(b)/(c) Waiver; and

WHEREAS, in accordance with the intent of the NC General Assembly and the NC Department of Health and Human Services, the governing Board of Vaya Health developed and is implementing a robust community reinvestment plan to use savings that is benefiting the citizens of our Catchment Area;

WHEREAS, Vaya’s reinvestment plan included purchase and distribution of more than 2600 opioid reversal kits; expansion of the Youth Villages Intercept® program that helps prevents out-of-home placement for children; increased funding for YV Lifeset® services for children aging out of foster care; development and ongoing support for two Behavioral Health Urgent Care Centers; development of substance use recovery housing; improving integrated care through workforce development training, including training for direct support professionals who serve persons with IDD; support for community programs that create affordable housing options, prevent eviction and help individuals with disabilities access housing and other forms of federal aid; and installation of MindKare® Kiosks across the Catchment Area to help reduce stigma and provide a convenient way for citizens to learn about services, and

WHEREAS, the North Carolina General Assembly significantly reduced State funding for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorder services for the past two years; and

WHEREAS, these budget reductions can no longer be absorbed by Vaya Health without jeopardizing services to citizens of the Vaya Health Catchment Area, negatively impacting the lives of people in need of services as well as potentially impacting the local economy through job loss;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the Board of County Commissioners for Polk County, do hereby request that the North Carolina General Assembly:

• Maintain full State funding for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance use services without further reductions; and

• Commit to increasing State funding for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance use services in order to serve the growing numbers of indigent, uninsured and under-insured population; and

• Allow Vaya Health to continue to use its savings to reinvest in enhanced services in our communities rather than having to use that funding to replace State budget reductions.