Presidential hopeful speaks out on proposed mental health cuts for Oklahoma children

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OKLAHOMA CITY –  As state agencies across the state are preparing for budget cuts, one presidential hopeful is speaking out about the budget crisis facing Oklahoma.

In December, state leaders announced that Oklahoma was facing a $900 million budget shortfall.

Earlier this month, Gov. Fallin proposed cuts for nearly every agency, leaving some trying to make ends meet while filling in the gaps in the budget.

Right now, Oklahoma is only funded to serve about 200,000 patients for mental health treatment, when state officials say up to 950,000 need it.

“Another three percent is another $10 million out of an already underfunded system and will affect at least, at least 16,000 Oklahomans,” Terri White said.

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is proposing a policy change where it would no longer cover private counseling sessions for foster children.

The agency says it is necessary to meet budget requirements.

Now, one presidential hopeful is speaking out about the proposed cuts.

“As First Lady, I led the fight to make sure every child in America had access to health care and worked with Democrats and Republicans to pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program that now covers more than 8 million children across the country, including children on SoonerCare. It’s unconscionable that as a result of the governor’s budget proposal mental health services for Oklahoma children may get cut first rather than closing irresponsible tax giveaways to corporations. States need to invest more in mental health services, not cut programs for vulnerable children. Oklahoma’s children need a fighter in their corner and I’ll be a president who will speak out and work to remove barriers to their success. I strongly urge the governor and legislative leaders to reevaluate the dangerous and costly proposed cuts in mental health services that have led to this proposal,”a statement from Hillary Clinton read.