Advocacy E-News July 19, 2013
GROUP TESTIFIES MENTALLY ILL, SUBSTANCE ABUSERS BEING DENIED INPATIENT TREATMENT
People in New Jersey are being wrongly denied insurance for inpatient treatment for substance abuse and mental illnesses, putting them in the position of choosing between paying for highly expensive care or being put on the streets, a group of patients, family members, and healthcare providers told a legislative committee yesterday.
The group told the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee that the state should take a more active role in advocating for patients, saying that those with behavioral or substance-abuse issues aren’t treated the same as those with physical ailments.
WARREN COUNTY OFFICIALS CONCERNED WITH STATUS OF STATEWIDE MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM
In the wake of the Hagedorn Hospital’s closing, the implementation of involuntary outpatient commitment centers was expected to fill the void. But while the centers were approved by the state in 2009, the program has been slow to develop and only six commitment centers are operational throughout New Jersey, including one in Warren County. That leaves Freeholder Ed Smith wondering why the remaining 15 counties have yet to join the ranks, especially in the areas near Hagedorn that were directly impacted by its closing.
ABOLISH AFFORDABLE-HOUSING AGENCY
Gov. Chris Christie cannot shut down an independent state agency charged with building affordable housing for New Jersey’s poorest residents including individuals with disabilities, the state Supreme Court ruled. The decision deals a blow to the Republican governor’s agenda and shields other independent agencies from similar power grabs. Christie’s administration had argued that shifting the agency’s duties to his cabinet would lead to more “efficiency” and solve the problem, but state Democrats and housing advocates have been skeptical that Christie would keep funding for affordable-housing level.
ONE IN SIX NEW JERSEY ADULTS TAKES MENTAL HEALTH MEDICATIONS
Nearly one in six New Jersey adults are on medications used to treat psychological and behavioral disorders, according to data from Express Scripts, which reports on and analyzes mental health medication trends among the insured population in the United States. Since 2000, there has been a 22-percent increase in the number of adults using medications meant to treat psychological and behavioral disorders. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show mental and behavioral diagnoses are also on the rise for children throughout the country. What the numbers don’t reveal is whether clinicians are becoming better at diagnosing ailments or defaulting to medications as a first resort, not always when appropriate
HOSPITAL OFFICIALS DEFEND PLAN TO CLOSE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH UNIT
Pennsylvania based St. Luke’s University Health Network officials Thursday defended their plans to close the behavioral health unit at St. Luke’s Hospital in Phillipsburg, NJ. The network will have to get a certificate of need from the New Jersey Department of Health before it can act on its plans, however it is unclear whether more beds at the Pennsylvania hospitals would meet the needs of New Jersey patients.
Making patients travel is detrimental to treatment, said County Human Services Director Karen Kubert. Plus, New Jersey patients who go to a Pennsylvania hospital can face insurance and commitment issues.