Where Va. candidates for governor stand on mental health

October 23, 2013
Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli has said he would increase funding for mental health by targeting waste, fraud and abuse and redirecting the savings. He would also redirect funds from other parts of Medicaid to mental health. He would not expand Virginia’s Medicaid program as permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act.

He would use the state’s “auxiliary grant” program to help finance housing for people with mental illness. The fund is currently used only for people in assisted living or foster care, but he would push to make the grants “portable,” allowing recipients to use the money as they deem appropriate, rather than sending funds to assisted-living or foster care homes.

He would seek a revision of the Virginia civil commitment standard to make it easier to order mentally ill people to receive treatment. Instead of a finding that they demonstrate a “substantial likelihood” that they will harm themselves or others, it would be necessary to show only that they are “in need of treatment.”

He has said he would provide funding to local community services boards and family assessment teams to refer children for treatment. And he would fund local agencies to provide mental health services in middle and high schools through staff psychologists.

Cuccinelli would expand crisis-intervention training for law enforcement agencies. As attorney general, he issued $4.2 million in grants to 23 local police agencies in October for such training.

McAuliffe

McAuliffe wants to increase funding for mental health by accepting Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act. He said that would bring in $21 billion in federal funds and free up $500 million from other areas.

He says he wants to provide permanent supportive housing to get people with mental illness out of institutional care. Participants pay subsidized rent while receiving support services to help them stabilize their lives and find work. The program is promoted by the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness as a highly successful way to give long-term help to homeless people, many of whom suffer from mental illness.

He says he wants to ensure that mental health treatment is available to teens and younger children and to prevent schools and state agencies from cutting funding for school counselors and mental health specialists.

He says he would use community colleges and other parts of the higher-education system to expand training for mental health professionals. He would work with hospitals and the federal government to increase residency slots and use grants, scholarships and loan programs to recruit health-care providers to underserved areas of Virginia.

McAuliffe says he would increase resources for crisis-intervention training for law enforcement officers, which would prepare them to deal with mental health emergencies.

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