Several NJAMHAA Priorities Addressed in Governor Murphy’s Budget Address

March 8, 2022

Statement from Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO

While Governor Murphy only briefly touched on mental health and substance use treatment investments in statements during his budget address today, digging deeper into the State of New Jersey Budget in Brief Summary of Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Recommendations (BIB) tells us there are some big wins in the FY2023 budget, though details are scarce at this time.

Importantly, the Governor's budget will provide a $1 per hour wage increase to mental health providers. While the total amount of funding this represents is not yet known, we expect this to be a significant amount. We hope to learn more about how this will be calculated and distributed in the coming days. As stated in the BIB, "the Governor also proposes increasing Medicaid rates for children's outpatient mental health services to maintain parity with adult services."

We are hopeful that the hourly wage increase will allow providers to make some progress toward filling vacancies and reducing turnover and especially gratified that Gov. Murphy is proposing increased children's outpatient Medicaid rates.

Raising the children's psychiatric assessment and partial care rates has been a NJAMHAA priority for some time and we look forward to more detail on which rates are being targeted in the FY2023 budget.

For housing in particular, Gov. Murphy recommends $300 million of federal funding to be allocated to the Affordable Housing Production Fund. "This fund will help us build the entire current backlog of 3,300 already approved, but still yet-to-be-built, 100-percent-affordable housing units by the end of my second term," according to Gov. Murphy. Additionally, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are proud to once again protect the Affordable Housing Trust Fund from being used for other purposes in FY2023.

NJAMHAA is pleased with Gov. Murphy's proposed significant investment in affordable housing, as all physical and behavioral health issues cannot be adequately addressed without first ensuring stable housing and addressing other social determinants of health.

We also appreciate the following provisions in the Governor's budget proposal that will further benefit service providers and the individuals they serve:

- Health Insurance: $25 million increase for subsidies on the Health Insurance Exchange and an additional $11 million to continue implementation of the Cover All Kids initiative, which covers children who had been ineligible due to immigration status.
- Charity Care: A proposed $20 million increase to Charity Care to bring the total to $339 million
- Graduate Medical Education: The budget maintains $218 million for the Graduate Medical Education program, and $24 million for Supplemental Graduate Medical Education.
- Corrections and Reentry: "The budget also adds $4 million to the New Jersey Locally Empowered, Accountable, and Determined (NJ LEAD) grants program, which provides funding to local non-profit organizations to enhance or expand services to people leaving prison to better facilitate successful reentry and reintegration," according to the BIB.
- Workforce Development: As stated in the BIB, "The Governor will also work with the Legislature to dedicate additional [American Rescue Plan Funds] toward workforce development efforts in targeted sectors such as green infrastructure, health care, and child care."
- Licensing: In addition, the Governor proposes new funding for Certificate of Need and Licensing process improvements, as stated in the BIB. A dollar amount was not provided.
- The budget proposal includes nearly $20 million in state and federal funds to implement the landmark Statewide Universal Newborn Home Nurse Visitation program that the Governor enacted in July.
- The Governor's proposal includes $1.5 million in new funding for the Department of Health to support initiatives included in the Strategic Plan to End the HIV Epidemic by 2025.

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