Suggests mental health units at jails

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 13, 2014 

No matter what your opinion is of the Affordable Healthcare Act, I belive there is one inescapable fact, it's the best thing that has ever happened in the field of mental health. With that in mind I encourage either or both Whatcom and Skagit counties to add a 16-bed mental health unit to their future plans as they design their new jails.

I was one of the unit clerks at an agency where mental health patients were sent for evaluation in Sedro-Woolley. And the reason that was given for our closing back in late 2010 by North Sound Mental Health Association was that we were a nonprofit generating facility, which in short means, we weren't even covering our costs to run the facility.

Well, of course we didn't, part of my job was to set up billing to be paid by insurance companies, which was a pretty easy job since almost none of them actually had insurance. At that time most of them fell into that hole where they had too many personal assets to qualify for Medicaid. With the new law that started this year, all of that changed and now most of them certainly would qualify for benefits. I ask anyone who is concerned about this issue to please contact your respective county officials and tell them to add a mental health wing to their new jails. Adding your voice to this discussion can help make this happen and many people can't even imagine how badly it's needed.

Bill Walker

Maple Falls

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