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Lawmakers look to privatize mental health centers

By Lynn Hatter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-953183.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Lawmakers heard a proposal to privatize the state's mental health hospital and treatment centers. It's a part of Governor Rick Scott's budget proposal. Lynn Hatter reports, members of the House Healthcare Appropriations Committee took up the issue Wednesday.

Privatization means the loss of more than 12-hundred jobs, but the goal is to save the state more money by outsourcing the operation of those facilities. The Department of Children and Families says if the facilities are privatized, there's no guarantee they'd stay in the areas they are now. State Representative Daniel Davis, a Republican, says he's all for privatization, when it makes sense.

"When I'm looking at the cost per bed, looking at the state hospital in northeast Florida it doesn't look like the costs are the same, it actually costs more to privatize and I was wondering if you could explain that to me."

Budget cuts have made the cost of care cheaper at state facilities bringing them more in line with private ones, and in some cases, cheaper to operate. Any proposals to privatize some of the state's mental health facilities will come when the legislature re-convenes next month.