Friday, July 9, 2010

Penny-wise and Pound-Foolish

The proposed state budget cuts $55 million out of the Medi-Cal methadone program for 35,000 individuals in California. It is tantamount to destroying the lives of 35,000 people, as well as having them return to addiction. The impacts are significant, and go beyond the patients themselves.

This particular initiative will result in the elimination of funding and the closure of drug treatment facilities. That will directly impact our county jails, our state prisons, parole and probation departments, as well as hospital emergency rooms and public health programs.

The elimination of the state's drug treatment funding would strain public safety programs and increase the number of relapsed individuals who are incarcerated.

These programs save our communities a significant amount of money by keeping people from using illegal drugs and seeking to support their addictions through criminal behavior.


It defines logic that states will cut programs that actually save money. In this case, this program also reduces rates of criminal victimization. In short, when opiate addicts are in treatment, their rates of criminal offending decline. So keeping addicts out of prison and jail (a cost savings) while reducing their rates of offending (a victim savings) should be seen as a program that is more than just cost-effective.

Situations like this also reveal that we need new models of funding for government programs. No program that people depend on should suffer because of the vagaries of the economy and politics. 

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