Kansas Mental
Health Coalition

Kansas Mental Health Coalition

An Organization Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Kansans with Mental Illness


The Kansas Mental Health Coalition is comprised primarily of statewide organizations representing individuals with mental illness or lived experience, families of consumers, community service providers and dedicated individuals as well as community mental health centers, hospitals, nurses, physicians, psychologists and social workers.


Each year, the Kansas Mental Health Coalition takes positions on a number of policy issues that advance its mission to improve the lives of Kansans with mental illness. These positions reflect the consensus of our members—over 50 organizations, professionals, and consumers.

They also reflect what it would take to create a stronger public mental health system, one that is now struggling to meet the high demand for timely mental health care and treatment. For example: Our Community Mental Health Centers, after experiencing years of funding cuts, are challenged to meet their statutory requirement to provide services to everyone regardless of ability to pay. Our state mental health hospitals were chronically over census for years, and now Osawatomie State Hospital has lost its CMS certification. There is a moratorium on admissions at Osawatomie State Hospital that has left individuals in crisis on a waiting list for treatment.  Our jails house too many people with mental illness, while most communities don’t have 24/7 crisis centers or housing programs.

In other words, no single issue can be viewed in isolation. A moratorium on hospital admissions puts pressure on law enforcement and local hospitals, which are not equipped to provide in-patient crisis treatment.  A four percent Medicaid reimbursement cut and cancelled Health Homes project causes staff and programs reductions at CMHCs.  A lack of supportive housing increases the chances that people with serious mental illness will end up in jails or state hospitals. Restricted access to mental health medications puts people with serious mental illness at risk of repeated crises—even though most communities don’t have 24/7 crisis centers.

Outpatient Mental Health Services: The coalition supports Mental Health 2020 and urges the Legislature to restore mental health reform grant funding for the state’s 26 Community Mental Health Centers so they can provide the important array of services required to serve Kansans with mental illness, including the specialized services important to children and families.  Legislation to improve workforce training and increase the number of clinical professionals should be supported.  The Legislature must restore the four percent cuts to Medicaid reimbursement and improve the overall KanCare program to improve timely eligibility approval, incentivize important community based treatment through new reimbursement codes, and reduce burdensome administrative requirements.

Inpatient Psychiatric Services – State Hospitals Crisis: The Coalition recommends the Kansas Legislature fully fund high-quality psychiatric inpatient services to meet the needs of all Kansans who require this care. The current moratorium on admissions at Osawatomie State Hospital is placing people and communities at risk.  Specifically, the Legislature should: 1) Restore the 206 beds at Osawatomie State Hospital and end the moratorium on admissions, 2) Pursue re-certification as soon as possible, 3) Provide ongoing funding and support to replicate throughout the state the crisis stabilization services established recently at the former Rainbow Mental Health Facility serving Wyandotte and Johnson Counties and fund them into the future, 4) Empower the Kansas Department on Aging and Disability Services to produce a long-term plan to implement the recommendations of the Adult Continuum of Care Committee, and 5) Provide for continued public/ private partnerships for local psychiatric inpatient beds to alleviate the growing demand for state psychiatric hospital beds.  The Coalition does not currently support the RFP to privatize Osawatomie State Hospital because of the lack of information regarding the current proposal. 

Medicaid Medication and “Step Therapy”: The Kansas Legislature should protect patient access to mental health medications in the Medicaid program by requiring transparent, effective and research-informed prior authorization policy development by the Mental Health Medication Advisory Committee and careful oversight by the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment over the implementation by managed care organizations.  There should be no step therapy for mental health medications.

Expand Medicaid:  The Coalition supports the expansion of KanCare, a move that would make the state’s Medicaid plan eligible to adults with an income at or below 138% of federal poverty guidelines. The federal government will pay between 90% and 95% of the costs.  Kansans have difficulty accessing important behavioral health programs in many areas of the state.  Expanding Medicaid is one of the best options available to close some of the gaps in our behavioral health continuum of care. Inpatient beds, transition programs, and community based crisis centers struggle to sustain services for a largely uninsured population.  These programs also face a workforce shortage.  The Bridge to a Healthy Kansas plan expands the number of Kansans with access to quality healthcare, and gives our state a greater share of federal funding to support the programs that provide the care.

Children and Families: The Kansas Legislature should support in its budget services for ALL children who need health, mental health, and substance use treatment.  Whether it is inpatient or outpatient, Medicaid or private pay, parents must be able to access the services they need at times and locations that work for families.  This is imperative in order to keep children at home and in school, which reduces the need for expensive out-of-home placements - but most importantly, keeps families together while improving the opportunity for growing up healthy.  When the adults in the family are able to access housing and employment as well as health care and substance use treatment needs, children are less likely to need long term interventions.

Mental Health and Criminal Justice:  The Kansas Legislature must adopt public policy that focuses on: (1) Mental health diversion programs that connect youth and adults with serious mental illness with treatment resources that keep them out of the criminal justice system, including a long-term commitment to Juvenile Justice System Reform passed in 2016; (2) Therapeutic care for offenders who are living with mental illness; and (3) Effective discharge planning to ensure that individuals with serious mental illnesses receive community-based services upon their release. 

Contact: Amy Campbell ● 785-969-1617 ● campbell525@sbcglobal.net

P.O. Box 4744 Topeka, KS 66604

(c) Kansas Mental Health Coalition, P.O. Box 4103, Topeka, KS  66604-0103         785-969-1617

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