Advocacy E-News December 8, 2016
December 8, 2016
LANCE PROMOTES MENTAL HEALTH BILL
Congress took an important first step in improving the nation’s struggling system of care for millions of Americans suffering from mental illness and drug addiction by including a sweeping package of mental healthcare and addiction treatment reforms as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill authorized $1 billion over the next two years to address the nation’s opioid abuse crisis, and would authorize or re-authorize funding for a wide range of federal grants for mental health and substance abuse services. Congress would still have to appropriate that money. The Bill now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.
EDITORIAL: POSTPONE MENTAL-HEALTH FUNDING REFORM
Mental health services in New Jersey could take a major hit in 2017, thanks to a new funding model that health providers fear will open cracks in the system through which thousand of patients could fall. Preventing those disruptions wouldn’t be hard — if state officials are sensitive to the threat. But that remains an open question, and the uncertainties have mental-health advocates increasingly on edge. State officials say they’ve heeded the concerns of mental-health advocates in developing the fee-for-service plan. They should extend the deficit funding through June 2018.
BERGEN REGIONAL BIDDERS FORESEE ‘NATIONAL MODEL’ FOR CARE
A coalition of North Jersey hospitals and a partnership involving Rutgers University each said Monday that they could improve care and better manage Bergen Regional Medical Center if selected as new operators — but they aren’t likely to provide millions in needed improvements.
The two were among seven entities that submitted proposals to take over operations of Bergen Regional, the state’s largest hospital, in 2017 — a change that will affect regional health care for decades to come.
CHRISTIE VETOES BILL LIMITING SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN N.J. PRISONS
Gov. Chris Christie shot down an attempt to curtail the use of solitary confinement for people with a mental illness in New Jersey’s prisons on Monday, vetoing legislation that would have strictly limited the practice and assailing its key sponsor in a fiery veto message. The move was a blow to civil liberties advocates in New Jersey, who point to a national reform movement that has led to limiting the practice, also known as isolated confinement, in a number of states. It sought to ban the practice for inmates who are mentally ill, pregnant or have other special needs, requiring daily medical evaluations for prisoners in isolation.
N.J. CHANGES WELFARE RULE AGAINST THOSE WITH A DRUG USE RECORD
A drug possession conviction is no longer a barrier to receiving welfare benefits in New Jersey under a compromise bill Gov. Chris Christie signed into law Wednesday. Childless adults who undergo outpatient drug treatment may qualify for public assistance, despite a conviction for drug possession in their backgrounds. Previously, inpatient treatment was the requirement. The measure (S601) also allows people to qualify for “general assistance” if treatment is not available or they receive an exemption “for good cause.”