The Citizen-Times reports that Broughton Hospital will (temporarily) lose $1 million in federal funding. The cut is intended to hold the institution accountable for a second incidence of improper care. In actual terms, it could represent another small dereliction of government’s number-one responsibility.

Following the asphyxiation of Anthony Dewayne Lowery by a 300-lb care worker who sat on him to restrain him, the institute came under federal review. Then, just recently, another patient who was supposed to be under intensive supervision sustained injuries in a fall.

In online comments about the article, families express anger because Charles Taylor is no longer in Washington exerting his powers of appropriation, which would have been sympathetic to those institutionalized. Fiscal conservatives, however, say it is not the place of government to provide social services.

The issues surrounding mental health de-institutionalization by the federal government in 1999 and the state in 2003 are familiar. As patients are streamlined into the communities, ads for group homes still only require applicants to have the equivalent of a high school education and a NC driver’s license. Meanwhile, those who would have been institutionalized now pose a drain on hospitals and public safety services.

Joseph M. Lalley, the proud father of a child who in his opinion needed institutionalization, worked for years to advocate against a policy with a track record of putting the defenseless and others in harm’s way. He recounted the story of a meeting concerned parents had organized with legislators. As luck would have it, one of the children, who was the size of a football player, broke loose during the meeting, and started running around like the idiot in a Hollywood movie, banging into things. It took more people than his frail mom to restrain him. He made the point. Lalley had a 4″-thick notebook of newspaper articles from across the country advocating against de-institutionalization. At least one is still online.