Started 2 petitions
New Jersey Must Ensure Critical Behavioral Health Services Are Maintained and Expanded!
Poll after poll, and a multitude of articles (Pandemic unleashes a spike in overdose deaths, The COVID Pandemic Could Lead to 75,000 Additional Deaths from Alcohol and Drug Misuse, Suicide, COVID-19 and Suicide: A Crisis Within a Crisis) and reports highlight the serious and significant impact of the pandemic on the mental health of tens of millions of people in the U.S.; the increasing number of opioid deaths and deaths of despair; and the critical need to invest in mental health and substance use treatment and support services, expanding capacity significantly to help address this secondary crisis. The members of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies serve over 500,000 New Jersey children and adults each year. The services provided to those with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders have always been a lifeline, but never more so than during the current pandemic. Faced with an unprecedented pandemic, New Jersey’s FY2021 budget must invest in New Jersey’s most vulnerable children and adults by ensuring critical behavioral health services are maintained, with provider deficit gaps covered, and an expansion of services to meet exploding need and demand. We, the undersigned, urge Governor Murphy, the New Jersey Legislature, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children and Families to include the following in the FY2021 budget: 1. FY2020 levels of funding for children’s and adult’s community-based behavioral health services. 2. Additional funding to: - support the purchase of technology infrastructure and services for both clients and providers so telehealth services are made available to all; - ensure adequate staffing for children and adults by covering the cost of the minimum wage increases, which remain unaccounted for in provider rates or contracts since the increases began; - protect children and adults by covering the cost of covid-related expenses to meet staffing and safety guidelines, including personal protective equipment and cleaning services. 3. Investment to expand community-based mental health and substance use treatment to respond to the ever-increasing need amidst COVID-19 so every child and adult receives appropriate care.
Support Telehealth Flexibility for NJ Mental Health & Addiction Treatment
In response to the immediate needs of the individuals who depend on their care every day, community-based providers of mental health and substance use treatment adapted almost overnight to new ways of doing business. Telehealth became a lifeline to clients across the state. As New Jersey transitions to post-crisis planning, it must consider the success with which providers have achieved high levels of care amidst the pandemic, and make permanent some of the telehealth flexibilities which have provided new efficiencies and even removed barriers to accessing care such as transportation and child care needs, and currently, the risks of Covid-19. Continued and expanded flexibilities for telehealth services must be extended beyond the declared emergency period if behavioral health providers are to be able to safely continue to provide pre-pandemic levels of service, and effectively address the pent up and anticipated increased demand for services. And clients must be permitted to receive services at the location of their choice. As the impacts of the current unprecedented pandemic continue to unfold, it is more important than ever that the capacity of community-based behavioral health programs be sustained and that will require continuing tele-health capability. The undersigned join NJAMHAA in urging the New Jersey Senate and Assembly and Governor Murphy’s Administration to implement the following telehealth recommendations for behavioral health to ensure continuity of care and staff and client safety, as well as contribute to provider sustainability: 1. Ensure that telemental health and behavioral health support services are included in all definitions of telehealth. 2. Pass A4215/S2467 with amendment to extend the current telehealth waivers for a minimum of 180 days beyond the emergency declarations. 3. Pass A4179/S2559 with amendment to permanently permit telehealth to take place at any site for both the provider and client. This bill currently addresses only the location of the provider. It does also allow any device that meets HIPAA requirements to be used, including audio only, and maintains equal rates for telemental health and face-to-face services. 4. Amend emergency telehealth legislation (P.L.2020, c.3) to permit mental health and substance use treatment interns to provide services via telehealth and direct all Departments, Divisions, Licensing bodies and Boards to amend current regulations and waivers as necessary. Not doing so will force students, supervisors and clients back into offices prematurely, placing them at increased risk of contracting Covid-19.