More Mississippians with mental health issues will be able to receive treatment in their home or community. A planned increase in home and community based care could help Mississippi avoid a federal lawsuit.
The Mississippi Department of Mental Health says it will add another 250 slots, known as waivers, for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to receive services in their home or community.
The increase means mental health will have added 700 waivers over the last three years for a total of 2500.
Department director Diana Mikula says they are working hard to move away from institutionalization.
"If we can serve individuals in the least restrictive environment that is definately the way to go. We want individuals with disabilities to have the same quality of life that you and I have. To live in their community and work and recreate with non-disabled individuals," Mikula said.
The increase in waivers is part of a recent six-page letter written by Attorney General Jim Hood laying out a path forward to avoid being sued by the federal government for violating a law requiring more home and community based services.
Hood says the feds have been flexible with the state, which is positive because lawsuits in states like Georgia have results in tens of millions of dollars in court mandated improvements.
"We are going to have to spend more money on mental health and we ought to. Because they truly are people that are least among us. If you don't have your mental faculties life is hard. We need to try to care for them better than we have in years past," Hood said.
However, the addtional waivers will not clear a lengthy waiting list.
Currently 1750 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are on a waiting list for a waiver.