The state has made a funding cut to housing that supports those with severe mental illness. Agencies that serve these clients said they'll have to look for creative ways to make up the difference.
The state said it's not the kind of cut that's discretionary. It's a formula change for Medicaid, and it's based on spending in prior years. Either way, it means an eight or nine percent cut to 14 providers across the state for a total of about $500,000.
The challenge, though, is that agencies were only made aware of the change in December -- midway through their fiscal years.
Cheryl Arora, budget director for the state's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, said, "We got a late start looking at the information and trying to build the rate. Unfortunately, that's the situation we were in."
Ray Gorman is one of the providers that gets the state Medicaid money to pay for those with intensive needs, like 24-hour care. He is president and CEO of Community Mental Health Affiliates in New Britain. Describing the clients who need the care in the one group home he runs that will be affected by the cut, he said, "The person who requires the highest level of supervision is the one who, if they do not have that highest level of supervision, runs the greatest risk of harm to themselves or others."
Gorman praised DMHAS as an agency, but said this late notice leaves him in a bind. "If, at the beginning of the year," he said, "I know that I have to come up with $30,000 in 12 months, I can figure out, probably, how to do that so it's as painless as possible.When you have to basically come up with that in six months, because you've already expensed six or seven months worth of revenue when you get the notice, that's much different."
In a letter to the affected agencies, the state apologized for the delay, and said it will work to finalize rates before the start of the fiscal year.