Franklin County Mental Health Agency Sues State

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Franklin County ADAMH says state funding for mental health has not kept pace with changes in practice and population.

The formula for how state dollars flow to county agencies was established nearly two decades ago and was mostly based on hospital use. Nowadays, the standard is moving towards treating substance abuse and mental health patients in community facilities rather than in institutions and hospitals. So the new formula relies more heavily on levels of poverty, community population, and the prevalence of mental illness. The state wants to phase-in the new formula gradually – starting with 10 percent this year — but ADAMH is suing to implement the new formula immediately. David Royer is the executive director of ADAMH. He says Franklin County has been doing more with less for a long time. “We think it’s time for a fair and equitable distribution of these funds in order to meet the growing needs of this community. So it’s really about trying to sustain access to care for people with mental health needs,” says Royer. Royer says that Franklin County has been recognized for its ability to treat patients within the community – and not in hospitals. Since the old formula relied so heavily on hospital use, ADAMH got a smaller slice of the pie for many years. “To give you some comparison we service 30,000 people, Cuyahoga County services about 36,000 in their mental health divisions. They receive $42 million, we receive 23. So we’re serving about 6,000 less with about $18 million less in funds,” says Royer. Ohio Department of Mental Health spokesperson Trudy Sharp agrees the entire state will benefit from an updated formula. But she says changing the formula too quickly would hurt other Boards in the state. “We’re looking to address the disparity in the distribution of those funds, but given the economy, it would be irresponsible to make abrupt adjustments,” says Sharp. Sharp points out that Franklin County will benefit in the long run from the new formula. “Franklin County has grown significantly in population. Cuyahoga has lost population. So the formula, in the long run, would take more money away from Cuyahoga and give more money to Franklin,” says Sharp. This is the first time ADAMH has ever sued the Ohio Department of Mental Health.