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State Plans Big Cuts To Mental Health

By BJ Austin, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-911869.mp3

Dallas, TX – More than 20 thousand Texans who get state-funded mental health services would lose that care under budget cuts outlined this week.

The Department of State Health Services is proposing 134 million in cuts to mental health programs - part of mandated reductions to close an 18 BILLION dollar state budget shortfall.

Dr. James Baker, CEO of Metrocare Services in Dallas, says the "need" doesn't decrease because services do, and cuts to mental health programs can ultimately cost taxpayers "more".

Baker: They go to emergency rooms. They end up in the legal system, in local jails. They end up homeless. All of which are services that still cost taxpayers money, but they cost a lot more than mental health services do.

Dr. Baker says he hopes to get that message across to lawmakers when they convene in January. But, he expects painful cuts ahead, and is already planning his own budget adjustments. Metrocare is Dallas County's mental health care provider.

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