Thursday, 4:30 PM
State delays freeze on psychiatric hospital admissions
By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff
The state Department of Mental Health has postponed plans to halt all admissions to state psychiatric hospitals as of today, a step the agency had said was required because of budget cuts decreed by Governor Mitt Romney.
This morning, Richard Powers, spokesman for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said that the mental health agency's plans were under review, and "until that review is done, it's business as usual."
The timeframe for the review is not clear, he said, given the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, but it will not be drawn out.
The Romney administration is insisting that the Department of Mental Health can cut the required 1.1 percent of its budget without hurting any of the programs and services it offers to the mentally ill.
In addition to freezing hospital admissions, the department had planned to make the cuts by slashing about 170 jobs and reducing the services it offers to mentally ill people living in their communities.
The Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems, which represent private hospitals that often care for and stabilize mentally ill patients before transferring them to state hospitals, issued a statement saying they were told that admissions to the state hospitals would continue through the holiday weekend.
"This is only a temporary reprieve, and we remain concerned," the statement said.