Another Bailout: Public Health | Bleader

Another Bailout: Public Health

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It turns out the city's service cutbacks aren't going to be limited to slowdowns in pothole repair or snow removal. As the Trib reported this morning (and the Chi-Town Daily News reported last week), the health department is getting ready to close 5 of the city's 12 mental health clinics at a time when people are losing their jobs and health insurance at staggering rates. City officials say their hands were forced by a drop in state funding; critics wonder why the city can devote resources to pursuing the 2016 Olympics--or, for that matter, another pro football team--when it can't find a way to support basic community health programming. 

Even before this announcement, city officials had cut the annual budget for the health department by about 17 percent, to levels not seen since the early part of the decade. The specific allocation for mental health services has been declining slightly over the last several years even as the demand for services has climbed, according to city budget records. Here's a snapshot:

YEAR

TOTAL BUDGET

MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET

EX-OFFENDERS SEEKING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

2005

 $ 201,251,200.00

 N/A

749

2006

 $ 204,056,110.00

 $  13,458,524.00

1045

2007

 $ 210,032,626.00

 $  14,876,601.00

1149

2008

 $ 230,259,853.00

 $  14,757,404.00

981 (city estimate)

2009

 $ 191,199,122.00

 $  14,620,486.00

 


So what's the answer? President Obama. "I'm hoping we'll get some help out of Washington now that we have a new administration," health commissioner Terry Mason told the Trib.

As we've noted before, this appears to be the Daley administration's strategy for dealing with all kinds of budget shortfalls.

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