And the fed take-over was a big mistake. Quoting Torrey:
- Over the following 17 years, the feds funded 789 CMHCs with a total of $2.7 billion ($20.3 billion in today's dollars), as the number of patients in state mental hospitals fell by three quarters—to 132,164 from 504,604—and those beds were closed down.
- From the beginning, it was clear that CMHCs were not interested in taking care of the [discharged] patients. Instead, they focused on . . . "the worried well." [Though] individuals discharged from state hospitals initially made up [just] 4% and 7% of the CMHCs patient load,. . . the longer the CMHC was in existence the lower this percentage became. [CMHC] failed because it did not provide care for the sickest patients released from the state hospitals.
- half [those discharged from state mental hospitals], many of whom lack family support and suffer from the most severe illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, have done poorly. . . these untreated mentally ill are responsible for 10% of all homicides (and a higher percentage of the mass killings), constitute 20% of jail and prison inmates and at least 30% of the homeless. Severely mentally ill individuals now inundate hospital emergency rooms and have colonized libraries, parks, train stations and other public spaces.
- Meantime. . . Medicaid and Medicare [--not] originally intended to become a major federal support for the mentally ill [--] now fill that role. In 2009, 4.7 million Americans received [social security support] because of mental illnesses, not including mental retardation, a tenfold increase since 1977. The total cost was $46 billion.
- The total Medicaid and Medicare costs for mentally ill individuals in 2005 was more than $60 billion. . . the annual total public funds for . . . treatment of mentally ill individuals is now more than $140 billion. The equivalent expenditure [when] the CMHC program [began] was $1 billion, or about $10 billion in today's dollars.
- President Obama['s] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration['s] contribution to the . . . Dec. 14 Newtown tragedy focused only on school children and insurance coverage. . . its current plan of action for 2011-14, a 41,000-word document, includes no mention of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or outpatient commitment.