Mental Health America Urges Rejection of FY 2012 House Budget Plan
Dangerous Cuts to Medicaid, Health Funding
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (April 7, 2011)-Mental Health America today urged the House of Representatives to reject a Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution proposal from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), calling cuts to Medicaid included in the plan a dangerous approach that would likely lead to an increase in the number of Americans unable to receive essential care.
The budget plan unveiled this week would cut Medicaid by as much as $1 trillion over the next 10 years and convert it into a block grant. Medicaid is the largest funding source for mental health services nationally. The plan would also gut health discretionary funding by nearly 15 percent-to levels lower than Fiscal Year 2008 funding.
"These cuts are dangerous and would place millions of Americans at risk of not being able to afford the behavioral health care they need," said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "For 14.7 million seniors and people with disabilities (nearly 25 percent of all Medicaid beneficiaries are seniors and individuals with disabilities, including mental health conditions), Medicaid is a vital safety net that provides access to care in the community.
"Such deep cuts would undermine the integrity of the Medicaid program and would likely result in an increased number of Americans unable to access the care they need. They would imperil our public health system and further exacerbate the problems mental health systems are experiencing, given that states have cut mental health agency budgets by a combined total of nearly $2.2 billion over the last three fiscal years, the largest reduction in mental health spending since the 1960s."
Some states have made cuts that equal 20 percent of their total mental health spending.
Dr. Shern said cutting Medicaid goes against the science, noting that access to the cost-effective Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit can often make a major difference in the lives of children with disabilities by allowing them to participate actively in the community in which they live. About half of Medicaid recipients are children.
The Institute of Medicine, in a 2009 report on mental health prevention and promotion, concludes that the prevention of mental health and substance abuse conditions among young people must be a national priority.
Dr. Shern said the House budget plan's $1.6 trillion cut in non-security discretionary programs represents a seismic shift in support for public health programs, including mental health services, support and research.
"These draconian cuts would severely jeopardize funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, which all play a critical role in allowing individuals with, or at risk, of a mental health condition achieve recovery and live a productive life in their community," he said.
He said the budget plan would also put at risk the implementation of two laws important to the behavioral health community-the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
"By gutting funding for the implementation and regulatory agencies, the capacity to implement these laws effectively is severely hampered," he said.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. With our century of service to America and our more than 300 affiliates nationwide, we represent a national movement that promotes mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation- everyday and in times of crisis.