Advocacy E-News February 25, 2014
February 25, 2014
COMMISSIONERS PREVIEW INFO ON NEW CHRISTIE BUDGET
With Governor Christie poised to present his FY 2015 state budget Commissioners Blake and Velez shared highlights of mental health funding with NAMI New Jersey and other stakeholder early today.
DHS Commissioner Velez noted that this was a difficult budget year due to growing pension and health related expenses, but that “generally the budget is very supportive” of individuals served by the department.
The following “new and growth” funding was noted for the Division of Mental Health and Addictions Services:
- $7.2 million for the Olmstead initiative
- $4.5 million for drug courts
- $5.8 million to expand Involuntary Outpatient commitment programs statewide.
The Commissioner stated that there will be changes in the Senior Gold and PAAD medication programs.
Commissioner Blake stated that there will be $24 million dollars in new funding for children’s mental health programs covering the remainder of this year and FY 2015 beginning in July including:
- $13 million for out of home placements
- $7 million for intensive behavioral assistants
- $2.9 million for mobile outreach
- $1.5 million for Care Management organizations (CMO)
In addition pilot programs will be phased in to serve 200 youth with both a mental illness and a developmental disability and for applied behavioral analysis programs to serve 200 youth with autism spectrum disorder.
Additional information will be provided as more budget details become available.
PROGRAM URGES TREATMENT, NOT JAIL, FOR PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
Criminal defendants with mental health disabilities will be able to avoid jail time while pursuing treatment for their illness under a pilot program led by Essex County prosecutors. The program will be funded with a $150,000, two-year grant from the state Attorney General’s Office that will pay for treatment and counseling for eligible defendants, prosecutors say. Acting State Attorney General John Hoffman cited statistics that suggest nearly one-quarter of inmates with a mental health disability have been locked up three or more times. Case managers will be assigned to monitor the progress of each defendant enrolled in the program to ensure that they are complying with their treatment plans.
DOCTORS TRAIN TO SPOT SIGNS OF A.D.H.D.
Pediatricians and family doctors handle the majority of office visits for children being medicated for A.D.H.D., according to a 2012 study in the journal Academic Pediatrics. Most experts blame the relative rarity of child psychiatrists: The result is that some rural families must drive 100 miles or more for an appointment with a child psychiatrist or neurologist, who often have long waiting lists and accept insurance less often than a family pediatrician. Yet many practicing pediatricians, family doctors and certified nurse practitioners say they have received little training to prepare for today’s rising number of families asking that their children receive mental-health evaluations.
NJ DEBT GREW $6.6 BILLION IN 2013, CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION SAYS
New Jersey’s long-term debt rose to a record $78.4 billion in 2013, an increase of $6.6 billion from the previous year and driven mostly by pension and health-benefit costs for public workers, according to an annual report released by the state Treasury. The report was the latest fiscal reality check for Gov. Chris Christie and state lawmakers, coming just days before the Republican governor lays out his new budget plan in a Statehouse speech on Tuesday.
The next few budgets could have a drastic effect on New Jersey residents and their communities, coming at a time of modest revenue growth and a looming explosion in costs that threatens funds for education, health-care programs, retirement benefits for public workers and transportation upgrades to New Jersey.
HIPAA GUIDANCE ISSUED ON SHARING MENTAL HEALTH INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released new guidance explaining how the HIPAA Privacy Rule operates to protect individuals’ privacy rights with respect to their mental health information and in what circumstances the Privacy Rule permits health care providers to communicate with patients’ family members and others to enhance treatment and assure safety.