Thursday, October 22, 2009

NASW-NC deletes posts from 10-19 & 10-7

*Editor Note* NASW-NC has removed posts from the above dates due to the non approved posting of the materials from the WRAL news website. Our apologies for this oversight. For information from the Triangle area of NC, go to

Editor, Hull House NC Policy Blog

Monday, October 19, 2009

Health Reform Matters for People with Mental Disabilities


Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law: Civil Rights and Human Dignity

Volume VIII, No. 7 of the Bazelon Center's Mental Health Policy Reporter
October 15, 2009

We're on the Road to Health Care Reform

House and Senate Ready to Merge Their Committee Bills

In this Issue

  • Senate Finance Committee Approves Health Care Reform Bill
  • Time Winding Down for Federal Appropriations
  • House Approves Medicare Premium Fairness Act


  • Education Secretary Proclaims Now is the Time for NCLB Rewrite
  • Pamela Hyde Nominated to Head SAMHSA
  • Genetic Nondiscrimination Act Rules Released
  • Rules Proposed for ADA Amendments Act
  • Rules to Implement Parity Law Delayed
  • Report Documents all Federal Spending on Children
  • National Council on Disability Releases Health Care Report

On the national news front, it often seems as if it's health care reform all the time, and now that all five congressional committees have approved bills, as described in this Reporter, the focus may become ever more intense. But there's more happening in the policy arena that's of interest to people with mental disabilities. Time is running down on Senate approval of the fiscal year 2010 federal budget for operations by the key departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Education, for some of which the House has granted increases. And the prospect of increased Medicare premiums led the House to approve a bill that will "hold harmless" 11 million seniors and people with disabilities.

Newsbytes highlight a schedule for stakeholder meetings on Education Secretary Arne Duncan's desire for "a transformative education law," and two proposed rules -to protect individuals from discrimination based on personal genetic information and to implement the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Read the full Reporter at

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Medicaid cuts -- including mental health

Published Wed, Oct 14, 2009 07:42 AM
Modified Wed, Oct 14, 2009 05:47 AM

Strained Medicaid in for cuts

North Carolina is trying to squeeze savings out of Medicaid, even as
people than anticipated sign up for coverage under the government
health-care program for the poor.

So far, the cuts primarily mean that doctors, hospitals and providers
being paid less for their services, but state officials and others are
warning that cuts to medical services and significant job losses in
care could be looming.

Cuts ordered by the legislature this year mean that Medicaid, which is
funded jointly by federal and state government, will lose $1.5 billion

Those cuts have touched nearly all areas of health care. Doctors and
hospitals are being paid less to treat Medicaid patients, and the state
spending less on community mental health and personal care services for

Meanwhile, more people are asking for help. About 8,000 more people than
legislators budgeted for were signed up for the government insurance
in August, and September enrollment was 3,000 people higher than

Unless there's a dramatic economic turnaround in the next year, the
pressure could increase, said Lanier Cansler, head of the state
of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid.

The state is expected to get $440 million less next year from the
government to fill Medicaid budget holes, he said, which may mean
legislators will have to consider cutting medical services.

"We're at the point to where we're not going to be able to keep access
place if we reduce the budget substantially more," Cansler said Tuesday.

Department administrators also worry that some doctors may decide to
treating Medicaid patients.

"We've got a tremendous challenge this year," Cansler said. "The
will just be multiple next year."

This year, most of the state's 1.4 million Medicaid recipients -- those
use the insurance for routine health care -- won't feel the pinch,

But doctors, hospitals and health agencies that care for them will get
money to do so, and paid caregivers will be watched more closely as the
state tries to contain costs by making sure patients don't get
they don't need.

Hospitals, mental health providers and home health agencies anticipate
thousands of job losses as a result of rate reductions and program

Mental health to be hit

Mental health providers who call the budget and program cuts "an
of destruction" will hold a news conference today to demand the
call a special session to restore mental health money.

Late Tuesday, Gov. Beverly Perdue announced that DHHS has been told to
an additional $15 million to cushion the drop in community mental health
spending. This year's Medicaid cuts in mental health came to $400

Hospitals expect to cut about 400 jobs because of the cut in Medicaid
payments, said Don Dalton, spokesman for the N.C. Hospital Association.
of those losses will be from rural hospitals.

The recession has already forced hospitals to cut staff, Dalton said,
lower Medicaid payments only add more pressure.

"These will force administrators and trustees to make hard decisions on
services to eliminate in their communities," he said.

The home health care industry expects substantial job losses, with fewer
patients receiving home care and agencies earning less money for them.

Up to one-fifth of the state's 100,000 home health employees could lose
their jobs as a result of state and federal cuts, with the state budget
reductions responsible for about 80 percent of the loss, said Tim
chief executive officer for the Association for Home & Hospice Care of

For elderly people who have trouble getting in and out of a bathtub or
the bathroom, the state wants to replace home care workers with bathroom
bars and raised toilet seats, Rogers said.

"They're trying to replace caregivers with pieces of equipment," he
"That's not the right thing to do."

Everyone wants Medicaid services to stay the same, Cansler said, but
not possible.

"The system can't stay the same when we're taking the amount of dollars
of it the legislature has required us to take out of the system because
the budget crisis," he said. or 919-829-4821

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mom's depression tied to child abuse in some families



NATION: "Mom's depression tied to child abuse in some families"

By: Staff Writer

According to a study of 5,500 U.S. families investigated by child welfare agencies published Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a mother's depression may increase the risk that she will act aggressively toward her child, including engaging in name-calling and threats. While the research does not prove that a mother's depression, per se, leads to child abuse, it does suggest that adults with children should be screened by a physician for depression and partner abuse, which also increases the risk of child abuse. The research shows that mothers that developed depression during the course of the study had increased incidents of psychological aggression against their children.


Mothers who reported an increase in abuse from their partner were more likely to state that there was also an increase in neglect and physical abuse toward their children. However, there was a reported decrease in psychological aggression towards children by mothers who moved in with a non-violent partner during the study.


Reuters News Service, October 5, 2009

For Full Article Click Here




Fitzsimon File: The unapologetic Department of Justice

NC Policy Watch


Fitzsimon File

The unapologetic Department of Justice

A widely respected Raleigh lawyer and former judge was discussing the Alan Gell case recently and his startling comments were a reminder of one of the most troubling aspects of the criminal justice system, the unwillingness of prosecutors to admit they made a mistake, to halt a trial when they discover that they might be trying to convict, even execute the wrong person.


Gell spent nine years behind bars for a murder he did not commit, four of them on death row awaiting his execution. A judge threw out Gell's conviction n 2001 after his lawyers discovered that prosecutors had withheld statements  from 17 witnesses who said they had seen the victim alive after the time that Gell could have killed him.


The News & Observer reported this week that the state agreed to pay Gell $3.9 million to settle a lawsuit he filed against the State Bureau of Investigation. Another N&O story profiled the SBI agent who investigated the case and ignored the eyewitness accounts that cleared Gell of the murder and neglected to tell prosecutors about other evidence that pointed to Gell's innocence. He still works for the SBI.


The prominent Raleigh attorney was considering this week's news and said first that he wasn't so sure Gell was innocent and then defended the lawyers in the Attorney General's office who prosecuted the case, blaming the SBI agent and the state medical examiner for any problems.


The medical examiner later testified that she too had been misled by the prosecutors.  The N&O reports that the SBI agent is unrepentant, refusing in a deposition to even express regret about how he conducted his investigation.


But none of that is the most disturbing part of Alan Gell's wrongful conviction and imprisonment. After lawyers discovered the eyewitness accounts that proved Gell could not have committed the murder and asked a judge to throw out his conviction, the Attorney General's office argued that Gell should still be executed.


They admitted that defense lawyers had been denied evidence that pointed to Gell's innocence, but no matter, kill him anyway.  Good thing the judge didn't listen.  Instead he vacated Gell's conviction, leaving the case in the hands of Attorney General Roy Cooper, who unbelievably decided to try Gell again, but not seek the death penalty.


Jurors heard all the evidence at that second trial and found Gell not guilty after a short deliberation. Some of the jurors told interviewers later that they didn't understand why the state had tried again to convict Gell.


Nobody has explained that decision yet or more importantly, why the state tried to execute him even after admitting that previously hidden evidence indicated that he couldn't have committed the crime. That's a long way past reasonable doubt.


The N&O's reporting also found that the two original prosecutors in the case said in depositions that they still believed Gell was guilty of the murder despite the overwhelming evidence that he was innocent and that a jury confirmed it.


The prosecutors were reprimanded by the State Bar for their conduct in the case, but none it seems to matter to much of the criminal justice establishment.  Maybe they can't let themselves admit that the state was trying to kill an innocent man. 


And that's the most disconcerting problem, that it is so hard for them to acknowledge it when they make mistakes.


The criminal justice system is not perfect. No system administered by humans can ever be. But we have a right to expect that folks who for the department named Justice seek it tirelessly, even when it means admitting they are wrong.


Progressive Pulse Blog


Daily News


Alcoa responds to Perdue's proposal
Charlotte Observer
Alcoa Inc. is fighting back against the state of North Carolina in a battle over control of Alcoa's hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River. Gov. Bev Perdue's administration has argued that federal regulators should not renew Alcoa's long-term license to operate the dams.

'Neighborhood schools' issue tapped anger

Raleigh News & Observer
Winning candidates in Tuesday's Wake County school board elections achieved their victories by tapping into widespread resentment about the schools and offering up the rallying cry "neighborhood schools." But those who favored current policies staked the election on promoting the unpopular cause of busing for diversity, analysts said Wednesday.

Some Dix patients can move to Butner

Raleigh News & Observer
A judge lifted a yearlong restraining order Wednesday, allowing state mental health officials to move ahead with plans to transfer patients from Raleigh's Dorothea Dix Hospital to a new facility in Butner.Dix will remain open. At least 100 mental patients will be housed in units at the 153-year-old mental hospital for the foreseeable future as the state struggles to cope with a serious shortage of psychiatric hospital beds.

N.C. rating on bonds still strong

Winston-Salem Journal

North Carolina has preserved for now its top-level credit rating -- news that keeps borrowing expenses down and gives Democratic leaders a pat on the back for managing the state's difficult financial picture this year.


The Fitzsimon File is available on your smart phone. Visit for the latest news, commentaries and special features. Join the policy debate at The Progressive Pulse blog.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

DHHS to ask that Dix restraining order be lifted

DHHS to ask that Dix restraining order be lifted

Raleigh, N.C. ��� The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will ask a judge Wednesday afternoon to lift a temporary restraining order that prohibits the state from moving patients to the state's newest mental hospital.

Secretary Lanier Cansler said last month that he would like to begin moving 100 patients from Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh to Central Regional Hospital in Butner.

If Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour lifts the order, Cansler said, it would take about 30 to 45 days to begin moving patients. The move would take several months to complete. About 120 patients would remain at Dix.

The $130 million Central Regional Hospital opened last July, yet nearly half the beds remain empty.

Advocacy group Disability Rights North Carolina filed a complaint last September, citing more than a dozen safety concerns and conditions the state failed to meet for the move, as outlined under state law.

Since then, DHHS and Disability Rights have been working together about the concerns.

In August, Vicki Smith, the group's executive director, said she believes the hospital is significantly safer now than when it opened last year.

Once the move is complete, it will save the state an estimated $800,000 a month, Cansler has said.

Eventually, Central Regional will replace both Dorothea Dix and John Umstead Hospital, which is also in Butner.

Dorothea Dix, now a subsidiary campus of Central Regional, will stay open for at least three more years as an overflow unit and to house children and adolescents in need of long-term care.

[Jack Register] this article is from a community psychiatry listserv