Fast Focus: How can we improve mental health care in the Tri-Cities? Funds stretched too far

May 12, 2013 

To answer the question about mental health care, I consider the argument against the Affordable Care Act. Fears exist against government-controlled health care, while present the system leaves mental health care decisions to bureaucrats. We need competition in health care for accountability.

In the Tri-Cities we have many competent health care providers with psychiatrists on staff, but we must go through a county provider to access the services of psychiatrists -- even if already enrolled with the provider. Out-of-town providers are tired of providing for the patients dissatisfied from the Tri-Cities and place hurdles for patients to voluntarily commit to their hospitals.

The Tri-Cities, an urban area, receives funding for mental health from a community patient count. We cannot stretch our funds to provide services to underfunded rural areas. Rural areas need to community fund or lobby legislators for another funding formula. Are there equal cardiac services in each community? No! We can no longer sacrifice Tri-City lives to give rural communities urban quality service while we beg.

Since police operate as first responders, we need a mental health court to document quality of care and a community triage tied to all providers in the area.

-- KRIS KENNEDY, Pasco

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