Tomorrow Governor Cuomo is presenting his combined State of the State Address and Proposed Budget for the Year

This is the starting point for this year’s Legislative Session. The way it works in Albany is that the Governor and the Legislature will negotiate a budget between now and April 1. After April 1st, there is the rest of legislative session which focuses on legislation through the end of June. There have been many years where these dates have not held true, but since Governor Cuomo has been in office, this has been the consistent deadline for negotiations.

At MHANYS, we broker our advocacy in two ways as well that reflect the bi-furcation of the legislative session.

Much of January-April 1, will be spent working on budget, though we will certainly reference legislative items as well. Largely during budget, we will be talking about enhanced funding for not for profit mental health agencies (dramatically enhancing COLA’s for the mental health workforce) including a recognition of the impact of the minimum wage to not for profits, the enhancement of housing including increased beds as well as a formula for also increasing funding for exiting housing supports, and fundamental enhancement of corrections services to insure up front engagement services when an individual with mental illness is released from jail and/or prison. We will also be reviewing the proposed homeless initiative with great interest.

We will also be advocating for medication access for all mental health medications on health plans formularies, more funding for the Joseph Dwyer veterans peer to peer program, geriatric mental health funding, CIT funding, enhanced funding for suicide prevention, continued reinvestment of services, funding for adult home advocacy statewide, transitional age youth funding and a call for a large increase in funding for Mental Health First Aid statewide. Our overarching theme will be equality for mental health services with other parts of the budget. Whether we are talking about Medicaid Managed Care, DSRIP, Housing or Workforce, behavioral health funding should and must be equitable with other sectors.

Much of  our April—June advocacy will be the push for Mental Health Education in Schools, Elimination of Fail First in Medication Formularies, Raise the Age (though that may likely be part of the budget discussion),  Post Release Supports for individuals discharged from Jails and Prisons with Psychiatric Disabilities, Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities, Adult Home Facilities and Justice Center Engagement as well as several other initiatives.

How we will do depends on your voice?

We were told for years that we would never get a Mental Health Tax Check Off and it happened because of you and your thousands of phone calls, e-mail blasts and meetings. The same was true of Timothy’s Law and Reinvestment and any other significant initiatives. We will need that same energy, enthusiasm and dedication again this year to succeed.

We have thousands of people on this list serve with numbers growing. Our allies in the community also have list serves as well, some of which provide information to thousands of people. Many of the agendas of our combined organizations are similar. If everyone participated in combined actions of our respective organizations, we would be the strongest constituency in Albany.

You can also participate by attending our Legislative Day on March 9th and add your voice to the hundreds of other attendees. Register at https://mhanys.org/cms/events-main/mental-health-matters-day/registration/

More than ever, we need your voice and support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glenn Liebman, CEO

Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

194 Washington Avenue Suite 415

Albany, NY  12210

gliebman@mhanys.org

(518)434-0439 x 220

 

 

 

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Glenn Liebman, CEO

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