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The Hochul Administration recently identified a solution (albeit temporary) to address the State’s own workforce shortage by waiving civil service exam requirements for certain positions in areas including health and human services. We understand the Executive is searching for ways to improve significant workforce problems. What we do not understand is why the state has not also addressed the nonprofit sector workforce crisis as well.

Non-profit community based agencies are the backbone of New York’s safety net system But these agencies are drowning under the weight of workforce shortages that have left them unable to meet state expectations to provide high quality on demand care to New Yorkers in need. Community-based agencies that provide mental health and substance use disorder services have greatly reduced or shut down new intakes due to staggering workforce shortages.

Their staff are paid (on average) 1/3 less than similarly situated state workers.
And, due to inadequate reimbursement rates, they have little to no ability to pay overtime wages to fill in the gaps. The undersigned agencies call on the Hochul Administration to quickly convene a task force comprised of system
stakeholders to identify immediate solutions to the staffing crisis facing agencies licensed and/or funded under the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS). The state workforce is clearly not the only sector that is facing a staffing emergency.

If the Hochul Administration can identify solutions to address the state workforce crisis, it can and should do the same for the nonprofit sector. New York State has a legal and moral responsibility to ensure vulnerable adults, children and families have timely access to services in local communities across New York State. It is in the best interests of all New Yorkers (and state finances) for the public mental hygiene system to be functioning at or above capacity in order to provide equitable and timely access to care, services and supports.


Advocates for New York’s adults, children, and families with mental health and addiction related needs, and the service providers who support them across our state, agree that the 4% Cost-of-living Adjustment (COLA) enacted in the 2024 NYS Budget is not sufficient to meet the needs of increased costs facing community-based agencies, and their current ability to recruit and retain staff.

Given the outcome of the SFY 24 budget deliberations, New Yorkers should be very concerned that waiting lists for treatment through the public mental hygiene system will continue to grow, children will continue to stay in Emergency Rooms for months awaiting appropriate aftercare services, and our staff will continue to seek out better paying jobs that recognize their skills and abilities and allow them to feed their families and pay their bills.

Since 2007, the Consumer Price Index has risen 43.8%. The Human Services COLA has increased by 10.6% resulting in a COLA deficit over the past 16 years of 33.2%. Therefore, a 4% COLA this year is effectively a reduction in funding, given current inflationary costs.

We acknowledge the investments and new initiatives put forth by Governor Hochul and supported by the NYS Senate and Assembly which are necessary to meet the increased demands and needs in mental health however a similar investment is needed in the OASAS system of care. Nevertheless, these significant dollars spent in building new services will prove to be futile without adequate support for the current workforce.

Throughout budget negotiations, the entire Human Services sector advocated for an 8.5% COLA.  Our request was based on real needs that will not dissipate with this budget deal.  Going forward, we will work tirelessly to secure the resources required to ensure every New Yorker can access high quality care through the state’s public mental hygiene system.  New Yorkers deserve nothing less. 

About Behavioral Health Advocates

Behavioral Health Advocates is comprised of twelve statewide organizations, including the NYS Council,  that have come together representing adult and children service providers, families, peers and other stakeholders to achieve common goals within the behavioral health sector. 


New York State lawmakers have approved a $229 billion state budget after completing protracted negotiations with Gov. Kathy Hochul that delayed its passage by over a month.  

The budget includes an historic $1B investment in mental health to include:

  • 1,000 Psychiatric Beds
  • $30M for children’s mental health 
  • Significant expansion of outpatient MH clinic services
  • Network Adequacy changes

There was a 4% Cost-of-living Adjustment enacted in the budget which advocates have continually stressed is not enough to mee the needs of our workforce crisis and the continued financial stress that has severely limited access to care.

Other topline agreements include changes to bail reform that will give judges more discretion to set bail requirements, agreement on a Minimum Wage increase, and language designed to crack down on illegal marijuana retailers, which was one of the final sticking points.  Hospitals and nursing homes will receive significant Medicaid rate increases (7.5% Medicaid inpatient hospital care, and 6.5% Medicaid increase for outpatient services and nursing homes) with an additional $500M made available to assist distressed hospitals.  


The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) extended the full set of telemedicine flexibilities adopted during the COVID-19 public health emergency for six months – through November 11, 2023. For any practitioner-patient telemedicine relationships that have been or will be established up to November 11, 2023, the full set of telemedicine flexibilities regarding prescription of controlled medications established during the COVID-19 PHE will be extended for one year – through November 11, 2024. OMH is in the process of updating guidance for providers regarding this new temporary rule.

The DEA press release and text of the temporary rule extending the flexibilities are available online here.

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