As we said earlier this week, it is incredible that both houses of the Legislature support an 8.5% COLA. This is very significant and send a strong message to the Executive that this is a priority for them. We will work hard to make sure that this stays in the final budget. Other highlights include funding for Daniel’s Law (great internal advocacy by Senator Brouk), rejection of the elimination of prescriber prevails and support for many of the Governor’s budget initiatives.
However the Assembly proposed budget includes rejecting an array of parity bill provisions that would eliminate pre-authorizations for certain services, expansion of full parity across the mental health sector, rejection of utilizing medical necessity as a rational to not provide services and not agreeing to provide commercial insurance for students in school mental health clinics. In addition, the Legislature rejected the State’s movement to create a Qualified Mental Health Associate title which would provide ladders for paraprofessionals for entry into careers in mental health.
We understand the Assembly is not rejecting these proposals but waiting till after budget to negotiate. We think that during budget negotiations is a good time to bring in these discussions moving forward. Time is of the essence.
For too many years, mental health has been an afterthought. Now over the last few years, through the Pandemic and other mental health crisis, we realize how important mental health is to whole health. We applaud the Governor for her budget and we also applaud the Legislature for restoring the 8.5% COLA. However, to make our system whole, we need the Legislature to restore mental health parity language (including School Based Mental Health Clinics getting commercial rates equivalent to Medicaid) and the Qualified Mental Health Associate title.
On so many mental health issues, the Assembly and Senate has been our friend and prime supporter. We urge their support to include parity provisions and the Qualified Mental Health Associate title in the final budget.
On Monday, we will provide the full breakdown of the Legislature adds and rejections of the Governor’s budget in regard to behavioral health.
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