There is currently 15 million dollars on the table for Mental Hygiene on
the budget. As we referenced the other day, this is legislative additions
to existing budgets of the OMH, OASAS and OPWDD. All of us have voiced our
frustration about what a small amount of funding that is in the scope of a
$143 billion dollar budget.

Reinvestment:

The MHANYS advocacy has been focused largely on restoring any loss of
Reinvestment funding.

In the State budget, there were two hundred beds proposed to be closed from
state hospitals with savings generated to go to community reinvestment at
$110,000 a bed. For one hundred of those beds, there will be full
reinvestment generated which would provide $11 million dollars to the
community for many of the things that the MHAs have advocated for including
crisis services, housing, peer support, family engagement, respite and
supported employment and education.

For the other 100 beds, the State has proposed discharging people from the
psychiatric facilities and transitioning them to nursing homes when
appropriate. There is an understandable rational for doing that especially
when you consider some of the physical health issues involved with an aging
population of people in psychiatric facilities. However, the way it would
be funded is that half of the $110,000 per bed for those 100 beds would be
spent in transition to the nursing homes. What that means fiscally is that
community reinvestment funding would be $5.5 million dollars instead of
what would have been 11 million dollars.

So essentially there is a shortfall of $5.5 million dollars. The Senate has
proposed adding $2.5 million to the budget to help make up for that
shortfall.

Over the last few days of budget, MHANYS and NYAPRS has made it a priority
agenda item to insure that there is an additional $3 million added to the
budget to insure the full $5.5 million is restored while working with our
partners in the State and legislature to insure that those individuals who
will be transitioned to nursing homes will have screening, assessments and
plans of care and transitional services that would be appropriate to their
needs.

The State and Legislative commitment to reinvestment over the last few
years has been greatly appreciated. OMH has gotten money quickly out the
door in many communities and that has impacted lives in a positive way.
That is one of the reasons why it is incumbent upon the Legislature and
Executive to continue the full Reinvestment commitment and also identify
additional community resources as well.

Criminal Justice Reform:

MHANYS, NYAPRS and The Legal Action Center have been working to support
Assembly budget bill language that would provide a waiver from CMS for that
would create a mechanism to apply for Medicaid thirty days prior to release
from jail or prison. This is an issue that has long been a priority to our
organization as many people leaving correctional facilities without
Medicaid often end up cycling back to prison or jail because they don’t
have access to Medicaid upon release. Whether through the Waiver,
presumptive eligibility, enhancement of the Medication Grant Card, greater
integration with Health Homes in correctional facilities or whatever
mechanisms are out there, there must be an ability to better insure links
with care coordination and access to services.

We are very pleased to see that both the Assembly and Senate have proposed
increases to funding for Crisis Intervention Teams in counties throughout
New York State. This evidence based practice has been highly successful in
working with law enforcement and families in responding to a mental health
crisis. We are also pleased that both houses recognize the importance of
Mental Health First Aid as a supplement to CIT training. Specifically with
the past funding from the Senate, MHANYS has been able to work with OMH in
Mental Health First Aid Training for counties with CIT training in place.

Minimum Wage

There has been a tremendous amount of media stories generated about the
Minimum Wage and the impact to the not for profit sector. Our colleagues in
the Developmental Disabilities community have done a great job of
vocalizing the concern that many non-profits have if the minimum wage were
to increase.

We have also voiced our concerns and continue to be part of broad
coalitions in the not profit sector that are appropriately saying that if
our staffs are not compensated as part of the increase in minimum wage than
we will likely lose many staff to jobs in other sectors. The mental health
field (as is true of other human service sectors) has people making minimum
wage who are outstanding at what they do—they’re principled, work hard and
believe in the mission driven nature of the work. It is difficult enough
to retain and recruit that kind of staff in a more level playing field but
when you layer in the minimum wage increase, the task becomes even more
difficult. Under separate cover we will share the specific request made by
our colleagues at ACL regarding the minimum wage.

We urge the legislature and the Governor to come to a compromise that
identifies paths that will pay for not for profits to be funded to help
supplement the increase in minimum wage.

Veterans Mental Health

Since the first year of the Joseph Dwyer project, we have been steadfast in
our support for the significance of this project in supporting peer to peer
support and services for veterans. At our legislative day earlier this
month, a veteran came up to us and said, ‘I would have been dead today if
it wasn’t for the Dwyer project” There are veteran Dwyer projects
sprinkled across the State and many of them are run through local MHA’s of
which we are very proud. We continue to support funding from the Senate in
the budget to continue this worthy project.

Mental Health First Aid

There is proposed funding in the Senate budget to provide funding to our
organization to continue our work in grassroots education for our members
about Mental Health First Aid. This evidenced based tool is also
highlighted as part of criminal justice reform

Prescriber Prevails

We were very pleased to see that the Legislature has continued their
support for Prescriber Prevails for medications in the Medicaid formulary.
While we were appreciative of the administration providing Prescriber
Prevails for mental health medications in the budget, we were also pleased
to see the legislature extend this protection as well to other medications
in the plans formulary.

Health Preparedness Dollars

MHANYS has joined with our colleagues in the community in the continued
efforts to advocate that 25% of all health preparedness dollars driven for
hospital consolidation and efficiencies is also identified for community
based organizations. Both the Assembly and Senate to this point have
supported this 25% threshold. This has been a very frustrating issue as we
move down the road with DSRIP and have found in many cases that there is
limited money going to community based organizations. It is an issue we
will continue to monitor not just during legislative session but throughout
the year.

Glenn Liebman, CEO
Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.
gliebman@mhanys.org

 

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