Poorly tracked mental health services funds aren't reaching patients with severe psychological illness
Wilson explained the cuts by saying that when Medi-Cal stopped paying for the care — essentially "raising the bar" for what it took to keep someone in a psychiatric inpatient bed — the county slashed the number of beds because it "simply wasn't profitable" to keep them open.
Asked to respond to this claim, SFDPH spokesperson Eileen Shields told the Guardian that only Barbara Garcia, the agency director, was in a position to respond. But Garcia was out of town and unavailable for comment.
According to the POC's Dr. Cameron Quanbeck, it costs $250 per day to house inmates in jail, compared with $1,700 per day for hospital care. In March, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi testified before the Mental Health Board that the jail system had become the "default" place for people with mental illness, identifying more than 70,000 contacts with Jail Psychiatric Services in 2012 alone.
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND LAURA'S LAW
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 16 percent of inmates have a severe mental illness, making jails and prisons the largest de facto psychiatric treatment facilities. The National Sheriff's Association has come out in support of AOT laws in all 50 states.
Pasquini says her son could have benefited from AOT, and she believes that "AOT should be a mandated MHSA program in every county to prevent tragedy and intervene with the criminalization of mental illness."
Since his initial diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder at 16, Pasquini's 31-year-old son has had more than 70 emergency contacts with law enforcement and/or ambulance personnel, most of them resulting in 5150 holds.
He is now a patient at NSH, where "he wants to die every day, and I don't blame him," continued Pasquini. "It's a reality for him. His illness has progressed, because every time you have a 'break,' you get a little worse. He's the perfect candidate for Laura's Law."
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