EDITORIAL: Mental health clinic closure

Heavy-handed federal regulation of health care has painful consequences at the local level. And we’re not talking about Obamacare here.

On Jan. 23, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shut down a new outpatient clinic at Las Vegas’ Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital because it didn’t function as a full medical emergency room, even though it was never intended to be one.

The clinic opened in July to keep the mentally ill from clogging the rest of the valley’s emergency rooms, which aren’t capable of diagnosing and treating mental health ailments. Its creation was a result of local health care professionals working with elected officials to develop a more efficient system for helping those in crisis. It was working.

Now it’s gone, putting additional stress on an already-dreadful mental health care system. The Nevada Behavioral Health and Wellness Council, a board created through executive order by Gov. Brian Sandoval in December, met for the first time Wednesday. The testimony highlighted why the oupatient clinic was needed. Once again, the mentally ill are filling emergency rooms while waiting for a bed in a psychiatric facility.

Nevada’s congressional delegation, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, needs to get on the phone to find a way to get the outpatient clinic reopened. Stat.