State Budget Update

April 30, 2023

Budget bills are printing.  And while it will take some time to review the final versions of the legislation, it does appear that the Human Services COLA is 4%.  

I share your deep frustration with this outcome.  The workforce nightmare we face each day that has reduced and in some cases shut down new intakes, demoralized our staff, and generally failed to provide any New Yorker who needs it with timely access to care, will continue.

This year the Governor made a historic $1B commitment to address some important areas of the mental health system over the next few years. These funds will absolutely make a difference however that same level of investment was not made in the OASAS system of care despite overdose rates continuing to rise in communities across the state.

And while the majority of the mental health money is for capital (which is critical to a robust system of care), it doesn’t substantially change our ability to keep up with inflation AND find ways to recruit and retain staff.  Our request for 8.5% plus $500M was real, and state leaders need to know that the negative consequences associated with our not getting both will be significant.

There appears to be a new ‘normal’ here in New York in which children and youth spend weeks in hospital emergency rooms awaiting discharge, where individuals and families linger on treatment waiting lists for months at a time, and where communities of color bear the burden of ongoing health disparities that leave them disproportionately vulnerable to increased rates of overdose and suicide.  This has to stop.

In the days to come the NYS Council will redouble our efforts and fight every day to ensure that the BH workforce is prioritized and properly supported, and that you can pay your bills on time and in full without having to starve another essential program you operate.

Thanks to our fantastic government relations consultant Marcy Savage who quickly summarized some of the final budget provisions of interest to NYS Council members that are included in the Health/Mental Hygiene budget bill – final version.  See attached.

There’s good news here including that the CCBHC Demo Expansion and the accompanying (new) Indigent Care Pool for Demos that we fought so hard for has  survived the negotiations and will be enacted as proposed in the Governor’s executive proposal.  Also, among the insurance proposals that survived is the school-based mental health clinic proposal that will require commercial insurers to pay the Medicaid rate for these services, although the group of services impacted by this policy has yet to be determined.

Finally, please note that while the proposal that would have required commercial insurers to pay for telehealth care at the same rate as the face-to-face care failed, there is sure to be legislation on this issue in the days to come.

We will have more shortly.  There are many more bills to analyze but for now we wanted to share some good news.