Re: “Rejection of Pierce mental health tax leaves supporters reeling,” (TNT, 12/15).
The Pierce County Council appropriately rejected a new tax that would increase funding for mental health. As a provider for 20 years, I know there are real needs in Pierce County, but a new tax is not the cure.
There must be oversight of the funding from Optum Health that is provided to core treatment agencies. The Optum contracts provide a bonus for finding new clients who have never been served while reducing services for the chronically mentally ill. The system in Pierce County went from providing intensive services for chronic clients to providing therapy to anyone on Medicaid. The result is reduced life skills training, fewer mental health beds in the county and minimal vocational services.
With a mental health and homelessness crisis, why are there fewer beds? The council should not appropriate more money for a broken system but strive to fix it.
Pierce County should not have a for-profit company overseeing contracts to nonprofit agencies. The gap in the continuum of care happens when Optum takes 10 percent of the state dollars off the top as profit. Think of the direct client services that could be provided with a 10 percent increase.