Today’s Crain’s Health Pulse contains an article from our coalition of Behavioral Health Advocates urging the State to seek additional revenues if there is no additional funding for the States in the next federal stimulus package.  As we have said on many occasions, a twenty percent withhold that turns into a cut for behavioral health funding will be devastating to individuals and their loved ones.

Behavioral health advocates call for increased funding

A group of behavioral health advocates from across New York said Friday that additional state aid will be needed to prevent the collapse of community-based behavioral health services.

The assertion comes as New York is dealing with billions of dollars in revenue losses as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and the possibility of additional federal relief remains uncertain.

Insufficient state aid and Medicaid rates contributed to slim margins for behavioral health providers even before the pandemic, the group said in a press release announcing the call for action. “Now, with less than 6% of federal provider relief funds going toward Medicare and Medicaid behavioral health providers, withholding state funding has pushed the service delivery system to the brink of insolvency,” it said.

The group applauded state elected officials that say they may need to raise revenue to provide the services necessary to getting New York through the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.

“We encourage consideration of whatever revenue actions are necessary to protect children who need behavioral health services so they and their families can meet basic needs and access supports and treatment and live their best lives,” said Andrea Smyth, executive director of the New York State Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health, in a statement.

Along with the coalition, organizations behind the call for action include the Care Management Coalition, the Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, the Mental Health Association, the Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, the Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Coalition for Behavioral Health, the Supportive Housing Network, Families Together and NAMI-NYS.

“Without federal support, New Yorkers need to develop their own rescue plans for behavioral health services,” Matthew Shapiro, associate director of public policy for NAMI-NYS, said in a statement.

John Coppola, executive director of the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, added in a statement: “Spiking rates of addiction and overdose, creating a greater demand for services, will go unchecked if cuts are made.” —J.H.

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