ACTION: Contact your state legislators and ask them to support the Community Mental Health Safety Net Act (S-3121, A-4827) to ensure continuing funding for community mental health providers to enable them to continue to treat thousands of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents.
To find your state legislators and their contact information, visit the NJ Legislature search page.
Why is this important?
For decades, non-profit community mental health providers have been helping New Jersey’s most vulnerable receive care for mental illness enabling them to live productive and independent lives. Their work has touched the lives of millions of mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, and friends across the state.
Now they are asking for your help. The New Jersey state budget, signed by Governor Christie on July 4th, marks a substantial funding reduction for their organizations and dozens of others across the state. These funding reductions have been disguised as a funding system called fee-for-service. Providers are projecting budget shortfalls upwards of 40 percent that can only be rectified through cutting services and the numbers of patients they can see. Fee-for-service is a reckless funding mechanism and has left devastation to mental health safety nets in many other states where it has been previously implemented.
NJ’s version promises to do the same. Short of providing better choice and access to care, fee-for-service will force thousands to go without mental health treatment and face uncertain futures where they are forced to navigate their communities without the mental health treatment they need. Not only will the human cost of FFS be incalculable but the cost to local, county and state budgets will be extraordinary as well. Leaders will be forced to find money to hire more police officers, corrections officers and school counselors and build more homeless shelters and jails as well as adding emergency room beds. Each of these options cannot provide the full continuum of mental health care at the low cost that community mental health providers do on a daily basis.
You can also follow the New Jersey Community Mental Health Coalition on Facebook and Twitter to keep updated about the FFS transition and to learn more about you can help these organizations that have helped so many.