With the budget negotiations not yet concluded (though it sounds like they
are getting close), we have put aside our budget analysis till official
passage. However, the extender budget is in place till the budget is passed
and there is updated information regarding mental health. The good news is
that the workforce funding is included in the Governor’s extender budget.
Also included in the extender budget is $10 million increase for housing
rates as initially proposed in the Executive Budget as well as $11 million
in funding for reinvestment based on the closure of 100 hospital beds.

We are hopeful that when the budget is passed, other priority areas of
MHANYS are addressed (as had been initially anticipated) around Crisis
Intervention Teams, Mental Health First Aid, Veterans Mental Health,
Suicide Prevention, and Prescriber Prevails. We certainly are advocating
for strong Raise the Age legislation that recognizes many of the 16 and 17
year olds who are tried as adults have mental health related issues
highlighted by the need for prevention and early intervention.

We are hearing that the language many advocates wanted that would include
HCBS designated agencies as part of the application process for the
Healthcare Facility Transformation Program is not likely to be included in
the final budget. While this information is preliminary, it is very
disappointing*. The not for profit mental health community has embraced its
role as an integral part of health care transformation, that is why it is
so perplexing and unfair that we have not been provided with an equal
opportunity to apply for the five hundred million dollars in funding for
Health Care Facility Transformation*. All we are asking for is a level
playing field with the rest of the health care community. This is an issue
that we will continue to bring forward in the future.

Workforce

Over the next two years, direct care workers in the mental health field
will receive a 6.5 percent pay raise while the clinical workforce over that
time frame will receive a 3.25% increase. This is the most significant
spending increase for workforce in many years. This is long overdue and
greatly appreciated. In addition, the Governor’s Executive Budget included
over three million dollars for workforce in mental health before the
addition of the new workforce funding. The direct care workforce in mental
health will receive a three and a quarter percent increase in January 2018
and an additional three and a quarter percent increase in April 1, 2018. In
addition, the mental health clinical workforce will receive a three and a
quarter percent funding increase as of April 1, 2018. We will provide full
details after budget is passed. Workforce funding has and always will be a
top priority for MHANYS.

We worked with our colleagues across the board around a unified message
that speaks to a living wage for the workforce. The challenges of to the
workforce are enormous—crisis services, respite work, support, 24/7 on call
and so much more are all part of the challenging job description. People
don’t go into these jobs for the money (otherwise they could get a much
easier job at the same salary) but they still have to pay their bills. We
will continue to work with all stakeholders to insure that individuals and
families are treated with the respect and courtesy they deserve through a
well-trained and well-compensated workforce.

While significant, we also recognize that we also need long term systemic
reform of workforce funding. We have to work with the entire human services
sector to increase program funding. Many of the people in the MHA programs
work cross systems with individuals who will not qualify for the workforce
increase. We must lift the entire human services sector up. MHANYS will
continue to work with the Restore Opportunies Now (RON) campaign in the
future in support of the entire sector through agency funding increases and
other legislative and administrative initiatives.

Reinvestment

MHANYS has long had a priority of support for reinvestment of hospital bed
closures into community funding. Though we can debate if there are enough
beds in the mental health system, one thing that we all agree on is that
is bed do close, the funding should be utilized for community mental health
services.

This year the Executive Budget proposed an additional $11 million in the
budget for reinvestment. This brings the total amount of money for
community reinvestment to over $100 million in the last four years. This
funding is embedded in the budget and a recognition of the continuing
importance of funding local assistance in the budget even with the
continued movement to Medicaid Managed Care.

The reinvestment funding is used for housing, employment supports, crisis
services, peer and family support and much more—all priority areas to
MHANYS and our members.

Housing

This year the Governor’s Budget proposed adding ten million dollars for
housing subsidies for mental health housing programs. This ten million for
rate increase is largely intended to help supplement existing rental rates
in areas downstate where housing prices are at the highest. While we were
advocating for additional funding in this year’s final budget, there was no
additional funding forthcoming. We will keep highlighting this as a
priority area.

Summary

Largely driven by the very successful BFair2DirectCare Campaign, from our
colleague in the Developmental Disabilities community, we were able to
include mental health and addictions disorders as part of the direct care
workforce funding. This will result in a significant step forward for
direct care and clinical salary increases. We have often talked about the
lack of workforce funding over the years and though this year’s funding
does not make up for past cuts, it certainly is a significant step forward
and an important recognition of the importance of workforce. A six and half
percent increase for direct care and a three and a quarter percent
increase for clinical staff over the next two years is the most important
workforce reform in several years.

This advocacy was a combined effort of eleven different behavioral health
agencies all speaking with the same voice in support of workforce funding.
All of these agencies deserve recognition for their hard work and support
as well as the work of our lobbyist Kevin Cleary. None of our combined
voices would have worked without the Executive and the Legislature
listening to our message. We are appreciative that they recognized the
importance of behavioral health in the equation for workforce.

Many other MHANYS issues will hopefully be addressed in the final budget
including CIT, Mental Health First Aid, Reinvestment, Veterans Mental
Health, Housing (though we certainly need a lot more community housing
support), Suicide Prevention, Prescriber Prevails and Raise the Age.

We are appreciative of the support of Governor Cuomo and the Legislative
leadership as well as our mental hygiene chairs, Assemblymember Gunther and
Senator Ortt for their strong support. We also want to acknowledge the
grass roots advocates who took the time to write, call and e-mail. Your
actions are invaluable and a testament what can be done when we all work
together.

Glenn Liebman, CEO
Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

 

Translate »