Funding for behavioral health

The Behavioral Health Board oversees publicly funded mental illness, addiction, and related services in Washington County. These services span a continuum from prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery to reintegration of individuals into the community and workforce.

Funds for such services come from federal, state, and local government subsidies, grants, and entitlements. Additional funding comes from reimbursements and donations. The board provides fiscal stewardship necessary to ensure wise use of available and fluctuating resources.

Last year the board received funds from federal (12%), state (79%), and local (8%) sources. Of the federal and state funding, 87% went to mental health and 13% to addiction services. Local revenues supported healthy youth development and other services related to mental health and addiction.

A close look at the board’s 2014 revenues, however, reveals that funding totals do not indicate funds actually available to the board for Washington County services. Last year the board received a total of $2.08 million. Of this total, revenues for mental health services were $1.66 million, 95% of which came from state sources. But $1.17 million flowed into a Crisis Bed Diversion Project designed to improve utilization of in-patient mental health facilities in 21 southeastern Ohio counties. The board served as fiscal agent for this fund but retained only a small proportion of the sum for Washington County. What remained of the state funding was $305,000, which formed the bulk of revenues available for county mental health services.

Revenues for alcohol and drug addiction services were $249,000 from federal (71%) and state (29%) sources. Federal addiction funding included $126,000 for treatment (71%), $42,000 for prevention (24%), and $9,000 specially for women’s addiction services (5%). The state’s funding included $46,000 for alcohol/drug addiction prevention and treatment (65%) and $20,000 for gambling addiction prevention and treatment (28%). Another $5,000 was for addiction prevention (7%).

The board’s local funding level is lower than that of many Ohio boards since Washington County does not have a behavioral health levy. Still, local funding last year was $174,000, which included $78,000 in Marietta Memorial Hospital reimbursements for crisis intervention services; $52,000 from other behavioral health boards for services provided by this board; $30,000 from the Washington County Commissioners, earmarked by the board for The Right Path of Washington County; and $5,200 from foundation grants.

Last year the board’s administrative expenses amounted to $237,000, about 11% of its total revenues. This includes $177,000 for staff compensation; $39,000 for headquarters expenses; and $21,000 for other operating expenses. In recent years, administrative expenses have declined as staff size has been reduced and office rental costs have lessened.

Looking ahead, Board Executive Director David Browne estimates 2015 funding will total about $850,000, due largely to the Crisis Bed Diversion Project funding no longer passing through the Washington County Board. As mentioned above, however, most of these funds did not stay in Washington County. A potential funding problem, though, may grow out of the expansion of Medicaid funding in Ohio. “Medicaid expansion has been wonderful as far as getting additional people into the system,” Browne says, “but the state sees this as saving the board money by not having as many uncovered individuals seeking services, so they in turn cut allocations to us based on their projections.” Boards had hoped that they could use funds freed up by Medicaid expansion to add services needed in their communities. Browne added, “We will get our allocations for the second half of 2015 probably in August, and we’ll go from there.” Funding prospects will be uncertain.

Visit www.washingtongov.org/wcbhb for more information about the board and its services. Open to the public, Board meetings are normally the fourth Thursday of the month, 7 p.m. at the board office, 344 Muskingum Drive, Marietta. If you are interested in serving on the board in a volunteer capacity, please call the board office at (740) 374-6990 or email davidkbrowne@wcbhb.org.

James Raney is a volunteer appointed as a citizen consultant to the Public Information and Education Committee of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board. Behavioral Health Matters appears on the Opinion Page on the last Saturday of the month.