The problems with funding for mental and behavioral healthcare is not new to District of Columbia; but, this year, the effects are overwhelming. By the end of September, McClendon Center will experience a shortfall of over $100,000 due to the Department of Behavioral Health cutting off funding for uninsured clients. This problem appears to be system-wide at this point, threatening the notion that we — as providers — form the public safety net for District residents with serious mental illness. When it became apparent that there was a funding issue several months ago, we as a Center decided there were three basic courses of action. The first was to transfer these uninsured clients back to the Department of Behavioral Health and hope they could find an agency that was sufficiently funded. (The question then would be, why would McClendon Center — as the District’s highest-performing agency — not receive funding when a lower-performing agency had). The second course would be to serve these clients anyway and try to absorb the loss, which is substantial. The last choice would be to simply not serve them and wait for the new fiscal year to bring new revenues on October 1st.
It will come as no surprise that McClendon Center has chosen to serve these uninsured individuals and are doing so at our own expense. We can’t let them go un-served, and we refuse to transfer them to an agency that will not provide the quality services that we do. Our Board of Directors is acutely aware that this decision will likely put the Center in deficit for the fiscal year, the first time that has happened in this decade. But how could we do otherwise? What is the price tag for quality and compassion? And what exactly does the District government value in regard to serving its most vulnerable residents?
If you have considered a gift to McClendon Center but have yet to make a donation, I ask that you actively consider making a contribution to help us cover the cost of providing these services. For the rest of the summer, your financial participation in providing services to the uninsured would be very much appreciated by us all.
— Dennis Hobb, executive director
image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.nte