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Court Ordered Mental Health Placements Are Costing Millions

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Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio
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Wyoming’s Title 25 program is $13 million dollars over budget and a group of legislators and others were told this week that reforms and policy changes are needed to slow down that spending. 

Title 25 covers court ordered hospitalizations for mental health and substance abuse patients. The state hospital doesn’t have enough beds to house those who need services, so the state has to pay private providers for that care. Natrona, Fremont, and Sweetwater County are driving the costs.  

A special committee is concerned about the rising costs, but Stefan Johansson of the Wyoming Department of Health said all is not lost. He said the solution is likely more simple than it appears.

“The number of people we see becoming involuntarily hospitalized every year is below 400. And this is a population we can target at multiple levels, whether it’s at the county level, the community health provider level, the state hospital, or other health care providers around the state.”

Johansson said they need to make sure patients have access to medications and get the proper care, while looking to see if they can reduce the number of days of that require hospitalization. Some counties are looking at pilot programs and incorporating gatekeepers who will monitor care and costs. The gatekeepers would also work with judges to determine the appropriate sentence. Those efforts will begin in the fall.

Bob Beck has been News Director of Wyoming Public Radio since 1988. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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