Mental Health Spending

When Nevada’s government workers (most commonly police officers) come across a citizen who is suicidal, they place them on a “Legal 2000” hold. The citizen is detained, for their own safety, until the state government can determine that they are not a threat to themselves or others.

The problem this system is trying to address is very troublesome, because very little is known about what causes abnormal psychology, and even less is known about how to make it stop. Some patients exaggerate the threat they present to themselves while others hide it.

This paragraph caught my eye in today’s RJ coverage of a public meeting about the problem:

But he also said national rankings that place Nevada 40th ($68 per person versus a $120 per person national average) in mental health are not correct since Nevada does not include federal Medicaid dollars in its accounting as some other states do. Medicaid spending on behavioral health in Nevada last year was $259 million versus $105 million in 2007.

$259-million divided by 2.75-million Nevadans would be about a hundred bucks per person that some states are counting in their stats but we are not. That more than covers $52 per person gap described above.

Could the amount Nevada’s taxpayers spend dealing with people who are a threat to themselves or others actually be above the national average?

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