Is this Mayor Daley's idea of a compromise? Yesterday we noted that Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward) had introduced a budget amendment calling for the restoration of the $2.5 million in lost state mental health reimbursements. (Ongoing billing glitches at the Department ...
Is this Mayor Daley's idea of a compromise? Yesterday we noted that Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward) had introduced a budget amendment calling for the restoration of the $2.5 million in lost state mental health reimbursements. (Ongoing billing glitches at the Department of Public Health are to blame for the drop in funding.) Moore also called on the mayor to restore $500,000 worth of substance abuse services that were axed from the budget.
Today came news that Daley appears to have delivered on the latter, while only offering up a mere $200,000 for mental health care to compensate for the nearly two-year-old billing boondoggle. The Tribune has the details:
Another $200,000 would go to pay psychiatrists to address concerns over a significant cut to mental-health clinics. Of the rest, $500,000 would be dedicated to substance-abuse treatment and $200,000 would be used for tourism efforts.
Pay "psychiatrists"? Plural?
It doesn't take much digging into the city's budget (PDF) to see that $200,000 worth of mental health care isn't going to stretch very far. By the city's own count, the going rate for a psychiatrist in the 12-clinic system is $159,669 per year. So after the city's own incompetence led to the gutting of mental health care services at the city's 12 clinics and the cutting of 4,000 patients and 108 front-line staffers, the Daley administration plans to bring back one doctor?
Well, to be exact, it's 1.25 doctors. That doesn't sound like much of an effort to us.
Meanwhile, because the billing problem is far from fixed, state reimbursements for the clinics are projected to fall again in FY 2011 from $7.2 million to $4.2 million, according to city budget documents. That's another $3 million out the window because of the faulty system.
Moore's proposal wasn't a complete solution, but it was a step in the right direction. Under his budget amendment, the city would have pulled money from the parking meter reserve fund to cover this year's lost state funding. In turn, 37 positions would have been rehired, from psychiatrists and clinical therapists to over a dozen social workers. But Daley has other ideas for the fund; namely his $35 million property tax "gimmick" that will offer $50 to $200 in so-called "relief" to families earning up to $200,000 a year. Talk about misplaced priorities ...