Mental Health Update

March 30, 2021

MH Update – 3/30/21 – The Governor, Legislature Must Keep a 28 year old Promise and Reinvest Mental Hospital Savings into the Community

The Governor, Legislature Must Keep a 28 year old Promise and
Reinvest State Mental Hospital Savings into the Community

March 30, 2021

Contact: Harvey Rosenthal, NYAPRS 518-527-0564, Glenn Liebman, MHANYS, 518-360-7916

Background: In 1993, the Executive and the Legislature made a commitment to redirect the savings from state psychiatric hospital bed closures into an expansion of community services that can help address the needs of people who might otherwise have been admitted to those facilities. Over the years, these funds have help pay for behavioral health crisis and urgent care programs, peer and family support, transportation, rehabilitation and specialized services for children and youth, among other locally identified priorities. At the present time, communities receive about $110,000 in recurrent funding for these kinds of community supports.

Currently: The 2021-22 Executive budget proposed to close state hospital 200 beds but to hold onto and block the reinvestment of the $22 million for budgetary purposes, breaking that promise. Since then, the Governor has identified upwards of $5 billion in available funding that he could use to balance the budget, funding in ways that would easily permit allowing Reinvestment to flow to the localities as has been the case for the previous 28 years. When he announced this additional funding, he promised to restore all the cuts in his original budget proposal..  He seems to have forgotten about his restoration promise, and failing to keep the state’s 28 year reinvestment commitment is essentially a cut. While the legislature has apparently rejected the closure of state hospital beds, upwards of 80 beds have already been closed since demand of them has steadily decreased.

Conclusion: There is no time really to break a promise, but especially now during a pandemic. Advocates are calling on the Governor and the Legislature to reinvest all funding connected with every closed state hospital bed. The Governor doesn’t need to and should not be permitted to pocket these funds and the legislature should recognize that keeping the beds open is a poor use of precious mental health funding that has never been more needed in the wake of trauma associated with the virus, social isolation, grief and loss, unemployment and racial strife.

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