Lawmakers hit Shumlin on mental health cuts

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont lawmakers are voicing concerns that Gov. Peter Shumlin's budget cuts will hurt the state's mental health system just as it is trying to recover from the storm-forced closure of the Vermont State Hospital.

Up for debate is a reduction of nearly half the 38 so-called "step-down" beds for patients who need housing and supervision but aren't acute enough to require hospitalization.

Some lawmakers say the cuts run directly counter to a plan to redesign the state's mental health system by replacing more than half the 54 beds that were at the Waterbury hospital with beds in less intensive settings.

Mental Health Commissioner Mary Moulton says she hopes some or most of the step-down beds cut from the budget this year eventually will be restored.

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