As the Legislature gets ready for their committee meetings, the opening
salvos on both sides has been sent with their one house bills. The various
budget subcommittees are meeting today including mental health at one
o’clock. The Assembly and Senate will come together to announce their
combined priority areas over the next several days. They will then
negotiate the final budget with the Executive. It is expected that there
will be a budget in place by or before April 1st. Both sides have expressed
their priority areas.

SENATE

In mental health, the Senate has proposed adding programs that have been
among the major MHANYS priorities including:

Community Investment
$2.5 million dollars for funding to support a Community Investment that
will be utilized to help add to essential reinvestment funding.

Joseph Dwyer Peer to Peer Veterans Project
$3.1 million for continuation of the Joseph Dwyer Peer to Peer Veterans
Project

Crisis Intervention Teams
$500,000 of additional funding to create Crisis Intervention Teams in more
counties in NYS. Mental Health First Aid is a component of this training.

Children’s Mental Health
$500,000 for a Children’s Prevention and Awareness Initiative

Mental Health First Aid
$100,000 for MHANYS to continue working with our affiliates on Mental
Health First Aid.

ASSEMBLY

The Assembly has also addressed priority areas of MHANYS including:

Crisis Intervention Teams
$1 million for funding for Crisis Intervention Teams—Specifics are still
to be ironed out but Mental Health First Aid is a component of this
training.

Minimum Wage
$200 million across all human services for a safety net for minimum wage.
Sectors include OMH, OPWDD, OASAS, DOH, OCFS, OTPA, SOFA and DOL

Criminal Justice Reform
Assemblyman O’Donnell introduced a bill that would authorize provisions of
Medicaid applications up to thirty days prior to release from jail or
prison.*

SENATE and ASSEMBLY

Health Care Facility Transformation
Both houses added two hundred million dollars each to Health Care Facility
Transformation. It will be utilized for smaller hospitals to pay down debt
and for mergers and partnerships with larger hospitals. What is most
relevant to us is that 50 million dollars in the Senate and $25 million
dollars in the Assembly are identified for community based providers.
MHANYS has been part of a group of advocates calling for this funding for
community based organizations recognizing that MHAs and our colleagues have
been ‘boots on the ground’ embedded advocates who have provided low cost
programs and services for years that have kept people in the community and
out of the hospital.

Prescriber Prevails
Both sides rejected language that would have blocked prescriber prevails
for individuals on Medicaid. Mental Health medications were carved out of
the original cuts but MHANYS and our colleagues made the argument that
given the relation between mental illness and physical illness, there
should be the protection of prescriber prevails for all medications even
those that aren’t directly related to mental health.

SCORE CARD
Going into this budget, MHANYS priorities have been a community investment
in mental health including adding funding for reinvestment, funding for
community based organizations, CIT funding, prescriber prevails, criminal
justice reform, Mental Health First Aid, Dwyer Veterans Project, funding
for the housing base and a funding pool for not for profits to make up for
minimum wage increase.

To a varying degree, the Legislature is addressing many of these concerns.
We are very appreciative of their support especially from our chairs,
Assembly member Gunther and Senator Ortt. Both of them completely get our
priority areas and have worked closely with us to address those needs.

However, the reality is that the entire Mental Hygiene table from the
Legislature only receives a small pot of money to be divided between mental
health, developmental disabilities and alcoholism and substance abuse. It
is very difficult to completely address all the important priorities of our
organization and those of our colleagues with a small amount of funding.

We will continue to fight to add funding for mental health services and to
shore up what has already been proposed in the mental health budget. We
will continue to need vocal support from the community to make this a
reality.

Follow us on twitter @MHAacrossNYS

Glenn Liebman, CEO

Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

 

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