Advocacy E-news March 26, 2020

March 26, 2020


Hospitals, health centers, veterans to get relief in coronavirus stimulus bill

A bipartisan COVID-19 stimulus deal reached Wednesday includes billions for hospitals and critical medical supplies as well as short-term funding for community health centers. The $2 trillion package has broad bipartisan support for relief directed to employers and workers suffering from a shuttered economy, but some provisions could dismay key House members. The legislation includes controversial language on substance use records that has been a hard sell for some influential Democrats.

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Supreme Court Upholds State Law Limiting the Use of the Insanity Defense

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a Kansas law limiting the scope of the insanity defense does not violate the U.S. Constitution. “Defining the precise relationship between criminal culpability and mental illness involves examining the workings of the brain” declared the majority opinion of Justice Elena Kagan. And “that is a project for state governance, not constitutional law.”

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Freezes Nearly a Billion Dollars in Spending as Fiscal Uncertainty Over COVID-19 Mounts

State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio issued a new voluntary disclosure statement to bond holders today, as required by law, providing the most detail, to date, on the potential impact COVID-19 may have on New Jersey’s finances, including revenue collections and pension fund contributions. Among the major items of appropriations placed in reserve is funding for support of patients in County Psychiatric Hospitals, Drug Court and services for veterans.

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Residents need to address mental health issues during crisis

With new concepts such as social distancing, quarantine and shelter in place a reality in New Jersey in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, some people may be at risk for anxiety, depression and extreme levels of stress as the number of positive COVID-19 cases and potential associated deaths rise.
“Individuals who live with a mental health condition may experience increased symptoms with the increased stressors,” said Maggie Luo, assistant director of NAMI NJ.

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Social Workers Providing Free Resources and Support to Community

With the COVID-19 crisis continuing to escalate across the state and nation, thousands of New Jersey’s social workers are continuing to support our communities through this global epidemic. The state’s leading organization for social workers is providing free online resources for its members and the community at large. Social workers provide over 3/4th of the mental health services in our community.

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U.S. Department of Education Affirms State and District Obligation to Provide Special Education During School Closures

The United States Department of Education (USED) has issued supplemental guidance to clear up the “serious misunderstanding” that federal disability laws prevent schools from offering educational programs through distance or remote instruction. The new guidance affirms that the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities “may include, as appropriate, special education and related services provided through distance instruction provided virtually, online, or telephonically.”

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