Mental Illness Policy Org.
Unbiased Information For Policymakers + Media
50 East 129 St., PH7 New York, NY 10035
August 29, 2013
Dear Governor Brown:
On behalf of our California constituency we are asking you to replace your appointees (except Sheriff Brown) on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission with independent commissioners. The California State Auditor found
“(B)ecause of the minimal oversight (the) Mental Health (Department) and the Accountability Commission provided in the past, the State has little current assurance that the funds ($7 billion) directed to counties for MHSA programs have been used effectively and appropriately”.
Our own report (enclosed) found the consequences of this lack of oversight was at least $1 billion being diverted from people with serious mental illness. Oversight commissioners encouraged worthy and unworthy social services programs to masquerade as mental ‘health’ programs to make them eligible for MHSA funding. Meanwhile the seriously mentally ill remain seriously underserved while money intended to help them is diverted elsewhere.
With this in mind, we ask you to replace all your appointees (except Sheriff Brown ) who served during the period the auditor found lack of oversight. The state auditor concluded they failed. The commissioners had previously been informed of problems within MHSA but ignored those reports and give every indication they will continue to do so. Replacing commissioners is the fastest fix and will be well-received by the public.
The new appointees should be independent. Almost all the current commissioners actively seek and distribute MHSA funds to the companies that employ them. This is a conflict of interest that we believe is at the root of the failures. The replacements should not be employees of organizations that have received MHSA funds or expect to receive funds. In any other area of government this would be a basic requirement.
We also suggest you appoint people from outside the mental health field. Only two of the Governor’s twelve appointees are required to be mental health professionals, but almost all are . For example mental health care experts, rather than business executives, fill the slots of “a representative of an employer with less than 500 employees’ and ‘a representative of an employer with more than 500 employees.” We believe their loyalties were to their employers, rather than to those with serious mental illness. Please fill those business slots with Chamber of Commerce or other business leaders who are dedicated to improving downtowns rather than maintaining the funding stream for programs that fail to address the elephant in the room: people with serious mental illness who can’t get treatment.
There are many supporters of Prop 63 who tried to bring the problems to the commissioner’s attention. They would make good commissioners. We would be glad to provide names to you.
Thank you for all you do to help people with serious mental illness. If you have any questions, or need any research feel free to call myself or Jeffery Hayden, West Coast Director of Mental Illness Policy Org at 805-701-1254 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental Illness Policy Org
Enc: Proposition 63: A Ten Year, $10 Billion Bait and Switch
Guidance from MHSOAC specifically encouraged counties to exclude people with mental illness from Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) programs.
INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR APPOINTEES:
Sheriff Brown is a wonderful example of how important it is to have people from outside the mental health field on the Oversight Commission. He tried to prevent the oversight commission from intentionally overstating the ‘savings’ from reduced incarceration in a heavily promoted report on Full Service Partnerships. Because the mental health representatives on the board has a vested interest in positioning FSPs as a success he lost the argument.
The two persons with severe mental illness appointed by the Governor are Khatera Aslami-Tamplen and Tina Wooten. Both work for orgs that receive MHSA funds and therefore have conflicts of interest. Tina Wooten was on Oversight Commission committees during the time the Auditor said the commission failed to exercise oversight. Both actively lobby against Laura’s Law.
The Family member of an adult with mental illness appointed by the Governor is Ralph Nelson. He was on the commission during the period the auditor said it failed and therefore should be replaced. He is also on the board of an org that receives $3 million in MHSA funds and therefore has a conflict of interest.
The insurance/health plan designee appointed by the Governor is Paul Keith, Medical Director of Anthem Blue Cross. We think this position should be given to someone who bears the consequences of the uninsured. For example, the state hospitals. They have an interest in reducing recidivism that community health care providers do not (Once someone goes to the state system, they become a state, not health plan responsibility. Put another way, everyone who is turned over to corrections or a state hospital is a success for the local insurer: one less person they have to treat).
The physician specializing in substance abuse appointed by the Governor is David Pating. He was on the commission during the period the auditor said it failed to exercise oversight. He is associated with many MHSA funded entities and therefore has conflicts of interest.
The representative of an employer with less than 500 employees appointed by the Governor is John Buck, who works within the mental health field as CEO of Turning Point was recently appointed to this position. We think the position representing business should be held by someone who represents business interests, not mental health. Ex. Someone from a Chamber of Commerce. Someone interested in reducing state costs and homelessness. Having said that, Turning Point administers Laura’s Law in Nevada County and he may be good for the board. But he should have his position as a mental health professional, not a business leader. The Oversight Commission needs business leaders from outside mental health.
The representative for large employers appointed by the Governor is John Boyd, Psy.D.. He is a psychologist who works within the mental health system. Again, this position should go to business interests, ex., someone within a Chamber of Commerce who wants to improve downtowns by seeing persons with mental illness get treatment rather than become homeless. The position representing large employers should not be given to another person who is inside the mental health system.
The family member of a child with mental illness appointed by the Governor is LeeAnne Mallel. We do not know her and do not want to caste any aspersions. We do not know what illness her child has (i.e., schizophrenia, bipolar, or some other less severe illness). We do note that she works in the mental health field. If ever there was a place where the designee should be outside the field.
The physician specializing in substance abuse appointed by the Governor is David Pating. He was on the commission during the period the auditor said it failed to exercise oversight. He is associated with many MHSA funded entities and therefore lacks independence.
The mental health professional designee appointed by the Governor Larry Poaster. He was on the commission during the period the auditor said it failed to exercise its responsibilities and should therefore be replaced. He has numerous associations with orgs that receive MHSA funds and therefore lacks independence.