March 26, 2015
Any loss of mental health care is going to impact the people who need it most–people who are able to stay home and avoid hospitalization because they have dedicated workers helping them with daily living and with achieving goals to become more self-sufficient.
My daughter is one such worker. She is a DLS worker–which stands for Daily Living Support. It is unknown how many of these workers are in Maine, but the estimate is anywhere from several hundred to over a thousand. She is luckier than most DLS workers–she also has a B.A.in English to fall back on if she needs it. Let’s hope she doesn’t.
DLS Workers May be Out of a Job
She’s going to need it the way things are going. According to the Beacon, Governor LePage, the trash-talking governor who said he would tell Obama to kiss his ass if he won the race for governor, blamed proposed cuts to mental health services in Maine on the federal government .To which my daughter replied, if that’s true, why aren’t other states doing this? Well said. A twenty-something with more brains than the governor apparently. Then again, LePage is probably counting on many of us to not rise up against him. Think again, gov.
The Ever-Unpopular Governor LePage
Keep in mind that LePage won the state with approximately 1/3 of the vote. That’s because someone named Eliot Cutler decided to run as an Independent, twice, which split the Democratic vote. That means approximately 2/3 of the people in the state do not like or are vehemently opposed to the governor and anything he stands for. Need I remind everyone that no sooner did he take office, he took down the mural at the Statehouse depicting laborers, those very people who built Maine from the ground up. The mural had been there for decades. That’s why our governor, who is an embarrassment to rational people everywhere, is #Notmygovernor.
According to news reports from Maine, Section 17 is this nasty section in the law which is going to take away health care for mental health patients except for those who have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders. This leaves out patients or clients who have depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, and other mental health issues. The clients (for lack of a better word, as they are somewhere in-between clients and patients) look forward to their DLS worker coming to help them. DLS workers are specially trained and some have received post-graduate certifications, such as my daughter. Others have other types of certifications to allow them to work with these clients.
When my daughter is afraid that she will be losing her job because of health care cuts, something is terribly wrong with our system. She is one of hundreds of workers who are affected. There are thousands of clients who are affected. It’s possible many of these health care companies will go out of business. Whose idea was this anyway? These clients need cheering up, need help with daily chores, and need assistance getting out of their apartments or houses. DLS workers are not glorified babysitters. They perform vital services to the people who need it most, and that is what is on the chopping block.
What is Proposed?
Section 17 is the legislation that was proposed by Governor LePage and his alter-ego, DHHS head Mary Mayhew. Ms. Mayhew was once a Democrat. She is now supposedly expressing an interest in running as a Republican when LePage’s term is up. She helped propose the cuts to mental health clients. As reported in the Beacon dated March 25, 2016:
Early this year, Mayhew attempted to change the rules for determining the level of mental disability of a client and the amount of corresponding benefits they are eligible for from an individual centered assessment to a simple standardized test. While Mayhew spoke of efficiency, this test had the potential to throw thousands of severely mentally handicapped Mainers out of needed support systems.
The proposal is that only clients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders will continue to receive DLS services. Where my daughter works, there are approximately 7 out of 70 clients who will still be eligible for services. The remaining 63 people will be on their own. The company probably will not need many DLS workers on its staff. The company could be in jeopardy of closing, along with other mental health-related businesses in Maine.
What Will Happen to the Mental Health Industry in Maine?
This is going to backfire on the governor who is not thinking this through. Many of these companies will go under. Many of the people who can no longer receive services will flood the hospitals and will not be able to stay at home. Most of the DLS workers and case workers will be out of jobs. The unemployment rate will skyrocket.
The governor, the most anti-labor governor I have ever witnessed, doesn’t care. He’s made that abundantly clear time after time. He’s blaming the federal government? We’re not that gullible. In fact, most of us are more educated than the governor, such as the undersigned. Yet he’s counting on the uninformed and the poor to just take it. Maybe he didn’t count on things like this blog or on the citizens of Maine who are really passionate about issues. Just look at the huge turnout for Bernie Sanders at the caucus and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Likewise, his crony DHHS head Mary Mayhew is just as responsible. There have been many calls for her resignation. She is running DHHS in an irresponsible way, cutting and cutting for people who need it the most. Maybe that is why she is now a Republican. In fact, as indicated in news stories, not one Republican in the Statehouse was in favor of keeping the mental health services intact. Only the Democrats are opposing this disastrous Section 17.
Five Democrats have petitioned the governor to review his decision to make these cuts. It would seem that the Democrats are the ones who care about this and how it affects their constituents. Maybe the GOP needs to be renamed. Don’t get me started.
What Will Happen to the Mental Health Workers?
These proposed cuts are a tragedy in that they affect so many people–mental health clients the most, DLS and case managers, and the mental health industry and companies in Maine which could go out of business.
What was the point of the workers getting their additional degrees or certifications only to be told they can’t use them? The situation is disgraceful. I expect no less of Mary Mayhew or of Governor LePage. They’ve shown time and time again that the well-being of Mainers is not their concern. #Notmygovernor. #NewDHHSHeadNeeded.
Mental Health Clients, DLS Workers and Case Managers Will all Lose
When my daughter, who wants to help these people, tells me her clients are going to be devastated, she knows what she’s talking about. Not all the clients know that the axe is about to fall. She is not allowed to say anything. Her company is having emergency meetings next week. Who will be there to pick up the pieces of the mental health clients when they are without crucial services?
Civil Protests Needed
What will happen to the workers? Those with college degrees will be in better shape than those who don’t have them, but then there are also older workers. Don’t tell me there isn’t age discrimination in this state. I’m an attorney licensed in another state, and I have seen it in Maine more than in other states. In fact, the entire employment situation in this state is pitiful.
All we can do is hope LePage comes to his senses. I would call upon DLS workers and case managers, the mental health companies and concerned citizens to protest at the Statehouse. A civil protest. Let LePage and his Republican army know what we think of them.
Some of them will be up for re-election. Time to vote them out. Time to get rid of DHHS head Mary Mayhew now before she makes a bigger mess of this state. LePage has already done his share. At this juncture, he will be adding to it if he doesn’t do an about-face. Let’s hope the decision to review Section 17 doesn’t fall on deaf ears and that the governor really listens to the will of the people.
What are your thoughts on this? Please comment. Please keep it clean so I can publish it. Thank you.
Ronna Lambiasi DeLoe