In President Johnson's original War on Poverty initiative more than 40 years ago, Medi-caid was created to serve as a medical health plan for the needy.
"It's grown into an entitlement program for many, and now that's gone," she said. However, it's now as though treatment of mental health issues don't fit under the medical/health plan model.
"With diabetes, you can prescribe so much insulin, and that model is being superimposed onto mental health," Womack continued.
"Some services will no longer be covered," she said. "There are no other monetary options."
The theme of paying for mental health services was a big part of a recent national conference of mental health professionals and government officials.
County Commissioner Dan- nie McConkie, whose responsibility includes serving on the Davis Behavioral Health board, also attended two days' worth of meetings.
"Because of the changes in Medicaid, that money is going away and shrinking," he said. "We're trying to find ways to augment funding, to get new money infused into our program so we can continue to serve that population.
"It was really eye-opening to me to get a better understanding of how those funds used to be developed as a pass-through from the federal to state, and then county level.
"We either cut services or find new ways to develop revenue," he said.
"One thing's for sure. We all live in a stressful environment. The world we live in is getting more difficult every day. More folks are faced with the pressures of life, sometimes things they can't deal with. They have need of this service" provided by DBH.
These funding cutbacks ap-pear as part of what Womack calls "a growing dangerous hole. We need to find help for probably 60 to 75 million people who are uninsured."
In fact, as she is interviewing job applicants for new positions she says it's not salary, so much, that is asked about. Instead, it's more inquiry about benefits.
"That, now, is more the driver. We're looking at a significant increase in health premiums in the coming years. It's time for public policy dialogue in this country to realize that mental health is an illness. It doesn't have parity" when it comes to funding or other considerations, Womack said.
"One serious catastrophic illness can devastate a family. It's not a one-time admission or episode, it's a chronic, cyclical situation that lasts a lifetime.
"We're in limbo" at DBH. "Our caseload is up significantly. The request for services keeps increasing. There are an increased number of people we are unable to help. It used to be the poor, now it's those in middle income.
"It really is unsound public policy not to pay for treatment," she emphasized. "One dollar in treatment saves $4 in health costs. It's not good policy to have to drop out of the workforce to access benefits," Womack added.
She recalled a Davis County family who nearly had to sell their home in order to pay for treatment for a child.