Some state lawmakers, with the support of Governor Nikki Haley, want to privatize the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.
Florence Representative Kris Crawford explains–
There’s a couple of levels to this. Obviously, there’s the proposal put forward… to privatize the housing and care and feeding of these chronic sexual offenders that the state aims to keep them locked up. Then there’s the question of the entire mental health system.
Privatizing would mean private companies would provide health services to these patients, rather than state government. Crawford says currently the mental health system in the state is back-and-forth.
We’ve sort of got this patchwork of private and public and the state running hospitals and the localities running mental health clinics and the state overseeing the mental health clinics. To get some sort of system, to one, to see where the dollars are going, and two, that there can be some kind of accountability in the system.
Some mental health employees worry that privatizing would eliminate their state benefits. Crawford says South Carolina has one of the oldest mental health systems in the country, and the state needs to catch up.
The vast majority of mental health systems across this nation have been privatized and there is no disaster, and it is saving states money. In South Carolina, the only reason why we are not in a worse spot is because Governor Sanford, when he was there, brought in a guy to run the state Department of Mental Health who had spent years down in Charleston running a private health facility.
Crawford says privatizing would allow providers to offer the care for cheaper costs and better care for patients.