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Mental health advocates call on Senate to reconsider cuts

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Mental advocates gather at the General Assembly. (Michael Barnard, WNCN) Mental advocates gather at the General Assembly. (Michael Barnard, WNCN)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

The mentally ill and their supporter sent a strong message to lawmaker Tuesday.

Advocates want their voices heard as senators debate cuts to mental health funding and a requirement for prior authorization for mental health medications.

If the Senate's budget passes as written, a pharmacist would have to verify the medication with the doctor and get approval from Medicaid before filling the prescription.

"Utilize a prior authorization policy for off-label antipsychotic and safety monitoring for Medicaid recipients 18 and older through the Adult Safety with Antipsychotic Prescribing Initiative," the bill reads.

Dr. Bryce Reynolds, a psychiatrist who attended a rally today in Raleigh, explained that if a patient misses their medication for just one day, there's a good chance they will stop treatment all together.

"As a result of that, it leads to more hospitalizations, more emergency room visits, more homelessness, more incarcerations, violence," Reynolds pointed out.

Angela Abbott, whose son has a mental illness, said people who are mentally ill often are not cognizant of their illness.

"He loses consciousness that he's ill," Abbott explained of her son. "A lot of people who are mentally ill do not know they are mentally ill unless they are on medication."

Protesters say they are also concerned that Medicaid will deny medication in lieu of cheaper options that may not treat their illness.

Melanie Sanders

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