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States in Crisis:
The Grassroots Response

Kansas

A Grassroots Success
NAMI Voices Make a Difference!
(May 2002)

During a critical fiscal year for most states, the Kansas state government projected devastating budget cuts to inpatient and community care for FY2003. Additionally, a bill the would require prior authorization for all Medicaid prescriptions was introduced as a cost-saving measure. Prior authorization is a cost containment mechanism in which prescribed medications are reviewed in advance before they are approved for payment. Prior authorization procedures can delay access to necessary medications for people with serious mental illnesses or other serious medical conditions.

Thanks to the statewide grassroots advocacy and professional network created in 2000 through its first "I Vote. I Count" campaign and subsequent follow up campaigns, NAMI Kansas was able to contact thousands of voters beyond its membership and inform them of carefully timed opportunities to connect with their legislators. The voters were given specific, solid information to be used to educate legislators on pressing issues. Well-informed advocates and professionals visited with legislators as well. The outcomes:

  • The Legislature passed a budget restoring mental health cuts to FY 2002 levels. An additional $30 million in federal dollars is anticipated for MH and an increase of four to five million dollars of state general funds were dedicated to community services;

  • An exemption for persons with mental illness is the only exemption provided for in the bill establishing prior authorization; and

  • After a stalled final legislative session (the longest in Kansas' history), grassroots voters did it again and the Legislature passed a revenue package to support the restored budget!!

Put "I Vote. I Count!" to work in your state. If you think that what worked for NAMI Kansas can work for you, give us a call at 1-800-539-2660. We would be pleased to share what we have learned. Together we can make a difference.


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