LINCOLN, Neb. | A medical provider said Tuesday this is no time for Nebraska to skimp on paying for mental health services, with recent flooding expected to heighten issues such as depression, anxiety, traumatic stress and substance abuse.
Cathy Phillips, a nurse practitioner from Hastings, told the Legislature's Appropriations Committee that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has noted, even before such a stress-causing incident, higher suicide rates in rural areas, which is a concern for the state along with the opioid crisis and high levels of binge drinking.
Rural populations have limited provider choices, fewer hospitals and clinics, and longer travel times to access care, Phillips said.
Sen. Kate Bolz introduced a bill (LB327) to increase payment rates for providers of mental health and substance-abuse treatment by 5 percent in each of the next two years. It would also increase rates for providers of services for those receiving children's health insurance program benefits.
A study by the state Division of Behavioral Health showed rates now are far below the cost of providing needed and critical care, she said.
Beth Baxter, regional administrator for Region 3 Behavioral Health Services, said that in normal times, one in five Nebraskans suffers from a mental health or substance-use disorder.
"But given our current state of crisis due to the massive flooding, that number will grow exponentially," Baxter said. "The psychological needs of Nebraskans who are in the midst of this crisis are abundant and will only continue to escalate in the months and years to come as the full impact of this disaster manifests itself in myriad of problems."
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Baxter, who has been a regional administrator for more than 27 years, said the state needs to have providers who can address trauma to restore their psychological well-being.
If the behavioral health system isn't shored up, Baxter said, the consequences will be dire. Adequate capacity and access to this care is essential.
Stephanie Knight, behavioral health administrator at Fillmore County Hospital, said her program has seen an increase recently within the agricultural population of people who are struggling amid financial difficulties with losing homes and ranches that have been in their families for generations.
"These proud and hardworking individuals are contemplating suicide as a possible solution," Knight said.
"Sadly, we cannot sustain our services without this rate increase. ... We honestly cannot afford to continue to provide these types of services, but we also can't turn our back on our communities who need us."
Help for Santee Sioux
In the wake of the unprecedented #NebraskaFlood, Indian nations are coming together to help the Santee Sioux Tribe, whose reservation was hit hard. Donations of bottled water and baby supplies are needed, and the tribe's water supply needs repairs too. https://t.co/fVsfPT4lkC— indianz.com (@indianz) March 19, 2019
Flying in supplies
The Nebraska flooding is so heartbreaking but the whole state has stepped up to help. I can’t be more proud of my brother for flying his plane to Fremont with baby supplies to help. Proud to be from Nebraska #NebraskaFlood #NebraskaStrong @GMA pic.twitter.com/vFZVDj6lm6— Michelle Galles (@WakefieldFCCLA) March 19, 2019
Offutt before and after
I joined the Fremont National Guard in Nebraska today to get an aerial view of flooding impact as we traveled to thank volunteers in Fremont, NE, address a community meeting in Niobrara, and receive a briefing in Lynch.#NebraskaFlood | #NebraskaStrong | #FremontStrong pic.twitter.com/piEXa7TpIq— Scott (@FirstMinScott) March 19, 2019
Cleanup in Wood River
Farmers, and rural people in general, have resiliency, and an innate ability to be kicked down (multiple times) and bounce right back up. Because of heart. #Flood19 #flood2019 #agchat #NebraskaStrong#IowaFloodhttps://t.co/4idp5iAQoX pic.twitter.com/Z8Dh01FBWo— NationalHogFarmer (@NHF_Magazine) March 19, 2019
Home appears like an island
This home in western Douglas County near Platte River appears like its own island - alone and desolate. But #unifiedcommand & @DCEMA_Nebraska assure you we are in this together. We are working tirelessly 24/7 to be here for our residents. #flood2019 #NebraskaFlood #NEBRASKASTRONG pic.twitter.com/JUbZdNv6bV— DouglasCountyNE (@DouglasCountyNE) March 19, 2019
U.S. 81 south of Columbus
.@NebraskaDOT teams have been working their tails off for several days (and they're not stopping any time soon).— NEStatePatrol (@NEStatePatrol) March 19, 2019
As roads open, we'll do our best to spread the word.
You should still check 511 before you attempt to travel in eastern Nebraska. https://t.co/D04CdkIVTY pic.twitter.com/ALXoLpifZD
State Patrol warning on roads
Road damage is extensive in many areas. This is a major reason why we tell people to avoid driving through flood waters.— NEStatePatrol (@NEStatePatrol) March 19, 2019
There's no telling what's under the surface, or if the road is even there any more.
Check out @NSP_TrooperGena @NSPTroopBNights for more. pic.twitter.com/byqCtMsnSI
Repairing the roads
Beer fridge was stocked!
For those of you that don't know, our state of #Nebraska is going through record flooding. Sometimes though, the world sends you a break. These guys went to their #DuckCamp and found a fully-stocked #BeerFridge. #NebraskaStrong #Flood2019 pic.twitter.com/t8FvdqVQ3g— Fat Boy Wild Game (@gameseasonings) March 19, 2019
This March, unprecedented flooding has impacted our great state.— Nebraska Huskers (@Huskers) March 19, 2019
Support relief efforts throughout Nebraska by joining @HuskerHoops tomorrow at PBA. Cash donations will be collected prior to tip.
To give $10 now, text "red cross" to 90999.
🔗: https://t.co/TOspLslAZk#GBR pic.twitter.com/CFzveypYH0
$300 of donations
Husker Life Skills
Latest from NEMA
Helping fellow student
Being briefed on AF2 w/ @SenJoniErnst en route to Nebraska on the latest from the devastating flooding that has impacted Nebraska, Iowa, & much of the Midwest. Our hearts are w/ the victims & we are grateful to First Responders & volunteers. Be there soon. pic.twitter.com/TIIjOPTYDE— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) March 19, 2019
Lincoln help for Santee Sioux
North Bend ovation
Sandbagging at Cooper
Niobrara ice chunks
Help from Fairbury
Help for farmers
Thanks to generious donations to the Disaster Relief Fund, we were able to deliver supplies to farmers along the Niobrara River. We brought them milk replacement for calves and medicine. Help us do more good by donating to the fund: https://t.co/sFi40cxnwG #nebraskastrong pic.twitter.com/dAGUYDKFpo— Nebraska Farm Bureau (@NEFarmBureau) March 20, 2019
Help from North Platte
@GitRDoneLarry— Chandra Laine (@ChandraLaine) March 20, 2019
We are a group of volunteers gathering donations in North Platte Ne . We sent one semi to Fremont. We have two more semi trailers almost full.Get our 4th semi on Thursday. To the people, Your battle is our battle. We stand with you. We got you! ❤ #NebraskaStrong pic.twitter.com/wsDRTr0Tr9
Ricketts disaster aid request
This afternoon @GovRicketts spoke directly to the agency representatives working in the SEOC in Lincoln when he came to sign an expedited request for federal disaster assistance for the #NebraskaFlood. Read more: https://t.co/6AAOmimbqR #NebraskaStrong pic.twitter.com/MffhKGpgBx— NEMA (@NEMAtweets) March 20, 2019
Buying out the bleach
Pence in Nebraska
Visited the relief shelter at Elkhorn Middle School today to let the Nebraska flood victims know @POTUS and I are WITH them & to thank the incredible military personnel & @RedCross volunteers helping those impacted. THANK YOU! pic.twitter.com/ZA6X7qfeSi— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) March 20, 2019
I-680 Mormon bridge
Pence with rescuers
Americans like Brad Brown & his airboat co-pilot Jake Rohr are the heart of the heartland. Brad & Jake have been helping victims of the flooding & delivering much needed supplies. Grateful for their service & ALL the volunteers & emergency personnel helping Nebraskans in need! pic.twitter.com/l2PxhwX6a4— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) March 20, 2019
Edge of Offutt
Sasse surveying damage
View of the Platte/Missouri
Lutheran Family Services
Thank you to all who have donated so far to support flood victims. As roads are reopening into Fremont, we are sending out LFS interpreters, case workers and therapists to help out in the shelters.— LFS of Nebraska (@LFSNEB) March 20, 2019
There is a long road ahead, but we will be here the whole way. #NebraskaStrong pic.twitter.com/vE1W2hEbys
Latest from FEMA
Missouri River at Nebraska 2/I-29
Operation Hay Drop
Operation Prairie Hay Drop photos
The #NEGuard has been supporting the ongoing response in Eastern Nebraska following massive flooding on the state’s river systems which began a week ago and caused catastrophic damage to the state’s infrastructure and agriculture.— NE National Guard (@NENationalGuard) March 21, 2019
(3/3)#NebraskaFlood #NebraskaStrong pic.twitter.com/N4zQ2zu2Zx