State Budget Update

March 11, 2022

While we wait for further details regarding the specifics of the $1.5T budget package that is (finally) being put in place to fund the federal budget through the end of the year, we anticipate state budget negotiations will ramp up just as soon as the Assembly and Senate one-house budget bills are released either sometime this weekend or early next week.

Summary:  The Governor released her executive budget proposal on January 18.  That proposal included significant good news for human services in general, and for mental health and substance use disorder organizations in particular.  Our major ‘asks’ that were included in the executive budget include but are not limited to:

  • Proposal for a one-time 5.4% COLA for most of the mental health and substance use disorder programs and services provided by NYS Council member agencies, with the exception of Health Home Care Managers.
  • $111 M (w/ federal match this grosses to $222M) for OASAS and OMH as the result of our work to ensure the state collected overpayments made to certain MCOs that did not meet required expenditure targets
  • Telehealth proposal that would codify rate parity for mental health and substance use disorder programs 
  • Competitive Bid Procurement proposal for the state when contracting with MCOs
  • Health and Mental Hygiene one-time Workforce Bonus Proposal
  • Significant increases for a variety of MH Housing Programs and Services

Remember:  Enhanced (eFMAP) funds have been going out the door as CMS continues to approve eFMAP proposals for the MH and SUD sectors. While these funds are not discussed in the state budget, they will expand and enhance the variety of programs and services that could see significant increases if the proposals (above) are passed as part of the next enacted state budget. or have already received increases to include:

  • OMH and OASAS Outpatient Rate increases 
  • PROS and ACT rate increases
  • Children’s CFTSS enhanced rate increase through 2023
  • Increases for some of the OASAS residential continuum of care 

Unfortunately, despite our efforts, the state budget did NOT address the following issues: 

  1. Licensing and scope of practice issues:  Licensing and scope of practice issues loom large and will have adevastating impact on our ability to ensure access to care if the exemption for our workforces to comply with state licensing laws are permitted to expire in June.  In addition, Article 163 practitioners need to be able to practice at the top of their licenses without having to be supervised by other practitioners who may actually have less training in the task of rendering a diagnosis than they do.  Lawmakers are introducing bills to address some of our concerns. We need for this issue to take center stage after the budget is enacted on/about April 1.  
  2. Our request for $500M for Workforce Investments, Services and Supports:  In 11 of the last 14 years, the statutory COLA for human services was either unfunded or underfunded. As a direct result, the community behavioral health sector lost well over five hundred million dollars.  Life would be very different had we been receiving these increases over the years.  As a result we will continue our hard push for these funds to be included in the executive budget agreement.

So what happens next?
The Assembly and Senate are about to release their ‘one-house’ budget bills’.  These bills are thought to be an expression of the budget priorities of each house as we move into two-way and then three-way budget negotiations.

About 10 days ago, state leaders agreed on ‘available revenues’ – the amount of money that will be available to lawmakers beyond what the state is spending to fund our base state budget.  Those numbers (somewhere between $800M – $1.2B) are an indication of roughly how much is likely to be made available to the legislature to make additions to the Governor’s budget proposal, or to ‘buy back’ proposed cuts that were included in the executive proposal.  Joint Legislative Budget subcommittees will be formed and various amounts of the funds that are available (@$800M-$1.2B) will be divided between all of the various subcommittees (Transportation, Mental Hygiene, Health, Education, Children and Families, Human Services and so on), and the members of each subcommittee will have to negotiate how they want to spend the funds they have been given. Each subcommittee will share the results of their decisions with the Senate and Assembly leaders, and the leaders will then negotiate with the Executive to arrive at a three-way budget agreement, ideally by April 1.  As always, we will keep you well informed.