In response to your June 19 article “Mental health chief says state draining funds”: Lucas County and Ohio are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. As part of the recent budget legislation, the General Assembly took back about $47.5 million that went to local mental health boards, and is redistributing it to newly created regional structures.
The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County already has identified the opioid epidemic and made it a priority. Through area providers, the board has increased local funding for opioid programs from $1,943,857 in fiscal year 2013 to $3,072,789 in fiscal year 2014 and $3,860,628 in fiscal year 2015.
While the creation of new regional structures to carry out mandated services may help underserved areas of the state, such is not the case in Lucas County. The Lucas County board stands to lose $2.6 million in state funds, with no guarantee that the new regional structure will replace that money.
It’s a shame the General Assembly couldn’t have taken a more precise approach to the problem, and carved out a waiver for local boards such as Lucas County’s that are addressing the opioid problem.
Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County and a former member of the Ohio House of Representatives.