Your legislators need to hear from you! Ask them to restore funding for community-based behavioral health services, and to continue transferring state-run services to community providers.
Every year, BHcare provides mental health treatment for 3,000 Connecticut residents who live in the Greater New Haven, Lower Naugatuck Valley and Shoreline communities. These individuals are struggling with chronic disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. These illnesses are pervasive and if left untreated can lead to an increase in devastating symptoms, psychiatric crises, and result in public health and safety hazards, community-based services allow these individuals to live safely and independently in the community.
Cost-effective, high quality services provided in the community can be part of the solution to the state’s budgeting problems. As we face a $1.7 billion shortfall in the FY18 budget, the governor and legislature have two choices to balance the budget: shift services into the community to save services and lives, or continue with business as usual and cut vital services to thousands of the state’s most vulnerable individuals and their families.
We respectfully ask the legislature to continue conversion of state-run services to one in which services are provided through the nonprofit system. We are pleased that the Governor’s budget proposal includes a plan to move 21 rehab beds from Blue Hills to private providers, but more can be done to achieve more savings. BHcare believes that by converting State-run community-based mental health/addiction services to the nonprofit sector, the State could save up to $102 million per year.
The Governor has proposed combining three grant funding line items, Grants for Mental Health Services, Grants for Substance Abuse Services and Employment Opportunities, into one and then cutting the combined line by $4.7 million in each fiscal year. Those lines were also cut by a combined $4.1 million in the FY17 holdbacks, which the Governor proposed annualizing. Grant funding for DMHAS services has been cut by more than $26 million, a cut of more than 25%, since Fiscal Year 2013. In fact, those reductions forced us to eliminate services for more than 500 people. While these cuts have been justified due to the increase in healthcare coverage following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a pool of uninsured people still exists. Grants help pay for the cost of care of the most seriously mentally ill, who are more likely to be uninsured or under-insured or to experience gaps in coverage.
Community nonprofit providers treat individuals regardless of their ability to pay, and grant funding from DMHAS is essential to cover the costs incurred by providers.
BHcare services save lives, they prevent suicide, they give adults with serious mental illnesses the treatment, medication and supports they need to live safely and independently in the community. Without accessible mental health and addiction services the State will see a sharp increase in the number of people accessing acute care and/or ending up in correctional facilities, both of which are much more costly in both financial and human terms.