Tri-County board resolution asserts local priorities and planning

By Susan Hartley

April 10, 2014

TROY — At its March meeting, the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services passed a resolution to express “deep concern about the lack of consideration for local” assessment, planning, contracting, funding, monitoring and evaluating of mental health and addiction services in Darke, Miami and Shelby counties.

The resolution is in response to proposed funding shifts by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services prompted by Governor John Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review budget adjustments. OMHAS has indicated it will re-allocate a significant amount of funds planned by local boards for local priorities into projects of statewide scope.

Tri-County Board Executive Director Mark McDaniel, in a letter accompanying the resolution sent to legislators representing the three counties, said, “We are alarmed at the efforts underway by OMHAS to redirect resources away from these locally driven initiatives to state priorities.”

McDaniel pointed to a number of initiatives in late-stage planning or already under way that are at risk of curtailment if the OMHAS funding shifts occur. Local priorities relate to opiate programming such as detox and residential programming, Vivitrol and Narcan projects, and greater access to physicians.

According to McDaniel, local boards have learned that the redistribution would be used to purchase electronic health records software for State Hospitals; fund statewide prevention efforts above and beyond statewide efforts funded by casino revenue sharing; and use $30 million to create five regional crisis stabilization units. He said it is not clear how these projects would be funded beyond Fiscal Year 2015.

In the letter to legislators, McDaniel identified other local priorities at risk that have reduced the use of State Hospital bed days. “These local programs have reduced civil bed usage of the State Hospital by 860 bed days in FY13 and 733 bed days so far in FY14,” McDaniel said. “That’s over $1 million less of state hospital bed days used in the past two years by the Tri-County area.”

McDaniel added: “This is an excellent example of why local behavioral health resources should be increased and supported and not reduced or reprioritized. And by the way, OMHAS gets to enjoy the significant savings as a result of our local work; we receive none of it.”

The State of Ohio operates under a two-year, or biennial, budget. Historically, the Mid-Biennium review, or MBR, has been a housekeeping measure to correct errors or make minor adjustments to the two-year budget. However, in recent years the MBR has become a significant budgeting process unto its own. In March, Kasich introduced House Bill 472, a 1,600-page bill that members of the Ohio House are considering splitting into as many as 20 separate bills.