Attached is MHANYS  testimony before the Joint Budget Committee hearing on Mental Hygiene from yesterday.  There was powerful messaging from virtually all that testified in support of an across the board funding increase for the human services sector of three percent a year for the next five years: #3for#5.  

Word has been beginning to spread across the State and within the Legislature and Executive.  Listed below is an article from today’s Crane’s Health Pulse.  Look for more articles and news stories coming out over the next several days.

Remember if your organization wants to join the campaign, just send a note to Sophie Theis at MHANYS at stheis@mhanys.org

Wages, Suicide Crisis Top Concerns at Mental Hygiene Hearing

Crain’s Health Pulse  February 4, 2020

Low wages for mental health and addiction workers and rising suicide rates were among the main concerns of lawmakers and advocates at Monday’s budget hearing in Albany for mental health–related services.

Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2021 budget proposal includes significant investments in the nonprofit workforce that serves people with mental health needs, substance-abuse issues and developmental disabilities, many say it’s not enough.

Proposed investments include $170 million annually for compensation increases to direct care and clinical staff as well as $265 million to support provider costs associated with the movement to a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

A 2% wage increase for direct care workers designated in the 2020 budget is set to take effect as soon as possible, with another 2% slated to follow as a result of this year’s budget, Commissioner of Mental Health Dr. Ann Sullivan testified at the hearing.

“These increases are very real, and they will happen,” she said.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a Democrat representing New York’s 100th district in Sullivan County, stated that the increase is still below the rate of inflation.

“We are losing our workers in this system left and right,” she said. “As a nurse myself, these direct service professionals create relationships with their patients, and their loss is a loss to patients.”

Gunther added that many in the industry support an initiative that asks the state for a 3% increase in human services funding during the next five years.

Last month the New York Association of Addiction Services and Professionals and the Coalition for Behavioral Health told Crain’s they plan to lobby for that initiative through their new strategic partnership.

Sen. David Carlucci, a Democrat representing the 38th district, which includes most of Rockland County and parts of Westchester County, also said he wanted to see a greater commitment from the state to the human services workforce.

It’s important to make sure that providers are not constantly having to retrain workers, he said. That can detrimentally affect patients’ access to care.

Carlucci also asked Sullivan about $1 million allocated for suicide prevention for members of the military and law enforcement and first responders.

Sullivan said the state is working on a detailed plan for those funds with groups that represent the respective populations.

Other populations of particular focus include Latina youth and the LGBT community.

Sullivan also noted that the governor’s budget proposal calls for an expansion of community-based services. Part of that provides $20 million for existing residential programs.

Since fiscal year 2015, expansion of community-based programs has resulted in more than 52,000 previously unserved individuals receiving care and the reduction of more than 700 unnecessary inpatient beds.

“New Yorkers can get the support they need to avoid hospitalizations, access inpatient services only when needed and live successfully in their communities,” Sullivan said.