NJAMHAA Applauds Level State Funding
In the FY 2012 state budget signed by Governor Chris Christie today, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA) was pleased to see that funding for mental health care and addiction treatment services was kept level.
“We are gratified that our legislators and the Administration have heard our advocacy and responded with flat funding, especially considering the economy. We are equally grateful that these state leaders, as well as policymakers in the Departments of Human Services and Children and Families, recognize the difficulty of maintaining levels of service in this time of unprecedented demand, which is greatly influenced by the economic downturn,” according to Debra L. Wentz, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of NJAMHAA, which represents 170 nonprofit community mental health and addiction treatment organizations.
The budget also includes some increases, which NJAMHAA also appreciates. Charity care is being increased by $10 million and a $30 million increase has been allocated for Graduate Medical Education. According to Dr. Wentz, the charity care increase demonstrates the State Legislature’s and Administration’s recognition of the increased demand for treatment in hospitals by individuals who currently do not have insurance. “They also clearly acknowledge that New Jersey has many universities that are training physicians, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals of the future. This is an especially critical time to ensure that New Jersey has a sufficient, qualified and trained workforce as people are making more demands on the healthcare system, particularly as a result of healthcare reform.”
“While we applaud New Jersey for preserving the system despite enormous budget deficits, it must be recognized that the state’s mental health and addictions treatment community, which serves more that 500,000 children and adults annually, already is stretched to the breaking point after years of increased demand and costs and stagnant or reduced costs,” Dr. Wentz added.