Addressing our mental health care crisis

To the editor:

Southern Nevadans face a health care crisis, due in large measure to the lack of available mental health care for the uninsured. However, there is a potential solution that’s been in statute for more than 40 years but never implemented.

NRS 436 directs the state to send funds to the counties for the delivery of mental health care. The upcoming Legislature would need to make two amendments to this statute to enable millions of additional dollars to come into Clark County.

Lawmakers would need to delete one sentence that stipulates services be provided to voluntary clients. Those individuals clogging Clark County’s emergency rooms are considered involuntary, and deletion of that sentence would allow all patients needing care to receive it.

The other amendment to NRS 436 must be a funding formula based on population. Clark County’s health care crisis has been exacerbated by years of inadequate funding for the mentally ill. Clark County has never gotten proportionate funding based on its population. The uninsured mentally ill do not fill the emergency rooms in Washoe County, nor is the psychiatric hospital in Washoe County ever at capacity. If mental health funding was distributed based on the population, many millions more in funding would flow into Clark County.

NRS 436 also allows counties to decide how to provide care, including contracting out these services to private local community hospitals instead of spending valuable resources transporting the mentally ill to one of the two psychiatric hospitals located in Washoe and Clark counties.

Appropriately amending NRS 436 would give local authorities control over local issues. It would also reduce the size of state government. The approximately 30 staff members who oversee mental health care in Carson City could be significantly reduced.

Let’s urge our Southern Nevada legislators to amend NRS 436 and give the local authorities control over local issues, and at the same time reduce the size of state government by encouraging a public-private partnership in providing mental health care. It’s a win-win for all of us.



Not sacred

To the editor:

I took great offense to Jim Day’s recent political cartoon labeling public employee wages and benefits a “sacred cow.” I am personally sick of the pot shots and unfair accusations against public employees. Apparently, once again, it is the fault of the public employee that this state is weathering tough financial times.

Despite my 22 years of public employment, my counterparts in the private sector make three times what I make. Further, I cannot believe that anyone seriously feels that our teachers, police officers and firefighters (all public employees) are overpaid and rich with unwarranted benefits.

Yeah, let’s take away the benefits of all public employees and pay them minimum wage — that will fix that state’s problems.

If there is a sacred cow in this state, it is the casinos, not the public employees.

Terri Williams


No answers

To the editor:

Steven Slowik’s Feb. 1 letter on urban growth made a good point, but like every politician we have running for president, he complains about a problem, yet offers no solutions.

Like all the rest of us, I would bet Mr. Slowik came here from someplace else, and like so many others now wants to close the door behind him.

A huge portion of the problem is the flood of illegal immigrants that are pouring into the valley. This is a problem that we can do something about, but no one is willing to take this problem on. The politicians make noise about it, but won’t touch it because they will lose the Hispanic vote.

Instead of complaining about the growth, we need people who can take this problem on and find a solution. The “I got mine” group needs to find some answers, not just continue to complain. Name a city and state where we should send these people, and then you step up and stop them at the border and tell them to go there. See how long that program would last.

No, Mr. Slowik, complaining doesn’t cut it. Come up with some answers so others can do exactly as you have and move to an area of their choice.

Wayne Fritsen


Farm talk

To the editor:

I noted with interest your recent editorial relative to government farm subsidies.

Being a small farm owner myself and reaping some of the spoils at taxpayer expense, I share your views. In fact, I urge the government to curtail all subsidies and let the free market determine the farmer’s degree of success.



Another distraction

To the editor:

In your Wednesday Business section, there was an article about Ford Motor Co. offering in-dash computers with Internet access in its 2009 F-150 trucks and E-series vans. While this optional package is aimed at businesses, there seem to be no restrictions against someone getting the package purely for personal pleasure.

The photo provided by Ford shows a driver using both hands on a keyboard that rests on the driver’s lap. My question: With both hands on the keyboard and both eyes on the screen, who is doing the driving?

The thought of negotiating the busy streets and highways of Las Vegas while some of our fellow commuters are looking at pornography, replying to e-mails or watching the latest YouTube video is terrifying.

Please join me in urging our state lawmakers to ban the sale or use of this optional computer system in the state of Nevada.



Limited government

To the editor:

In his Feb. 5 letter, Jack L. Kane appears surprised that our elected officials don’t seem to understand our Constitution. But after what has happened in the past 50 years or so, it seems to me the majority of them have never even read it.

Our founders knew that government by its very nature would usurp power never intended for it, so they gave the federal government limited “enumerated” powers. All other powers were to remain in the states or in the hands of the people.

James Madison said, “The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and property of the people.”

Every citizen in this country should read the Constitution. The Federalist Papers, which explains in the words of three of our founders (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay) what they meant when they drafted the document, is also an excellent source.

Look at the “enumerated” powers and see if you think it would take $3.1 trillion dollars (the new proposed federal budget) to pay for them.

Look to see if government has the right to take money away from one group to give to another.

Look at the First Amendment and see if you think McCain-Feingold is constitutional.

And lastly, check where that government has the right to garnish your paycheck to pay for universal health care that some presidential candidates tell us is a constitutional right.

Robert Gardner


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