The overarching narrative of the proposed budget from our end was the lack of a human services COLA. We will continue our advocacy on this front with a special thank you to the thousands of you who called last week to try to get it into the budget. We will be relying on your grassroots advocacy throughout the budget season.

Some of the other parts of the budget that are of interest to MHANYS included:

Housing: 

There is a proposed increase of ten million dollars to support existing mental health housing. This is consistent with funding for the past five years. The Bring It Home campaign is urging support for additional funding based on the needs of individuals living in community based programs where costs have dramatically increased in recent years. Advocates are also reviewing the proposal from DOH that would medicaid existing supported housing beds across the housing spectrum.

Behavioral Health Parity:

We were pleased to see the continued commitment by the Executive to enhance behavioral health parity through the hiring of additional staff at DOH and DFS to review health plans denials to insure compliance with New York’s strong existing parity laws. In addition, the proposal would insure that there would be no prior authorization necessary for medication assistance therapy for individuals with addictions disorders and also prohibit prior authorization for inpatient services for youth during first fourteen days of inpatient.

Mental Health in Schools:

The Executive proposed adding $1.5 million in the budget for Mental Health in Schools with a focus on middle schools. The MHANYS Resource Center was referenced as part of this funding. We are very pleased that this is included in the budget and will work with the Executive and Legislature to enhance funding for Mental Health Education in Schools

Joseph Dwyer Veterans Mental Health Peer to Peer Program:

While there was reference to the Program and its importance in the community (MHA’s proudly run many of these programs across New York State), there was no specific funding added to the program. This has traditionally been funded by the Legislature and we will advocate to include additional funding.

Geriatric Mental Health:

MHANYS, The Geriatric Mental Health Alliance and many organizations in the community advocated to double the amount of funding for the demonstration projects from two million to four million. We were disappointed that it was not included in the budget and we will work with the Alliance to help advocate for future funding

Medication Accessibility:

We were very disappointed that this year’s budget took out the protections of prescriber prevails for all classes of medications including mental health medications

Reinvestment:

Though there is no specific number in the budget related to bed closures, there is a continued commitment from the State to include funding for community reinvestment beyond the $100 million that has already been embedded in the budget.

Justice Center:

We are concerned that there was language in the budget that would eliminate the Justice Center’s jurisdiction around summer camps run through the Department of Health for individuals with developmental disabilities as well as for OMH and OASAS Certified programs and services provided in general hospitals. If anything the role of the Justice Center should be more expansive to include Adult Care Facilities that have under 150 beds

Crisis Intervention Teams:

We are not surprised that there was no funding for CIT in the budget as this has been consistently funded by the legislature. That said, it would make sense to embed that funding in future budgets so it would be annualized

Mental Health First Aid:

While not in the proposed budget, there are several arenas where Mental Health First Aid would be incredibly helpful for the State and community workforce. We will continue to raise the visibility of this nationwide best practice model that has to date resulted in over 1.5 million individuals being trained in Mental Health First Aid

Action Strategies:

We have much to do in our advocacy this session led by our concern related to the lack of a human services COLA in this year’s proposed budget. Please look out for our action alerts as well as from our colleagues in the community. Taking five minutes out of your day to make a call or set up a meeting pays huge dividends. Reinvestment, Timothy’s Law, Mental Health Education in Schools and a lot of other important initiatives do not happen without your voice.