Proposed Mental Health Reforms Face Challenge

By: Andy Chaves
By: Andy Chaves

Gov. Mike Johanns' proposal to close the Hastings and Norfolk regional centers faces a challenge in the upcoming Legislature.

An Associated Press survey finds that only eight of Nebraska's 49-state senators support Johanns' proposal, while only 15 more senators are leaning toward supporting the Governor.

Under Johanns' proposal, the regional center in Lincoln would remain open, but the centers in Hastings and Norfolk would close by 2005. The funds from the centers would then be redirected to community-based facilities closer to patients' homes.

Lincoln Senator DiAnna Schimek is leaning toward not supporting the proposal, saying, "If money is the object, why aren't we doing a better job of accessing Medicaid funds already? There's some question that we're really not doing a very good job."

Senator Mike Foley of Lincoln, however, is leaning toward supporting the governor, telling 10/11, "The problem is we're missing out on about eight to ten million in federal funds a year because of the way we organized our system of health."

The Unicameral convenes on Jan. 7, with several topics on the table, including the budget, the regional centers debate, and whether or not to allow gambling to be put on the ballot.

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