A Costly Expansion of Kendra’s Law Is Unnecessary
By Harvey Rosenthal Staten Island Advance Letter to the Editor May 31, 2012
Re: The Staten Island Advance Editorial “Strengthen Kendra’s Law,” published on May 24, 2012:
Several initiatives developed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team and approved by legislators are more effective and affordable ways to close the cracks in our mental health system.
Regional Behavioral Health Organizations are now making sure that hospitals come up with better discharge plans while Medicaid Health Homes require teams of providers to follow up closely to help avoid relapse-related crises.
These approaches are fully paid for and will reach a million vulnerable people statewide while the Kendra’s Law expansion proposal, which is opposed by 15 statewide advocacy groups, will almost double the program’s $32-million cost to reach a fraction.
The proposed Kendra’s Law expansion will also needlessly increase the role of already overburdened courts and police instead of keeping the focus where it belongs: Making sure that community mental health providers actively engage and serve our most vulnerable.
Finally, let’s make clear that people with mental illnesses are not a threat to public safety. Despite lurid front-page coverage of rare tragic events, the facts are that people with serious mental illness are actually 11 times more likely to be victims of violence.
[The writer is a member of New York State Medicaid Redesign Team and executive director, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services.]