A man with a history of mental illness is arrested for murdering and mutilating his grandmother in her home in the Avenues. In the aftershock of the tragedy, family members complain that the murderer had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had recently slipped into violent behavior, but he did not receive the inpatient treatment he needed.
This is the latest in an endless line of stories recounting inadequate mental health resources in this community. But there may be a beam of light in this tunnel. It will come in the form of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. If the law is fully implemented in 2014, it will expand Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands of Utahns who do not have health insurance now. A consequence is that low-income people in Salt Lake County will have a way to pay for mental health and substance abuse services.
As a follow-up to the grisly murder on the Avenues, The Tribune reported that mental-health providers, police and the judicial system have worked to create programs and centers to provide the care that the perpetrator of this crime obviously needed. But one gap that remains is a way to pay for care for people who are not eligible for Medicaid, the federal/state program that provides health insurance for low-income people and children. In Utah today, single adults who are childless and are not aged, disabled or blind are not eligible for Medicaid.