NJAMHAA Pres./CEO Hails FY23 Budget for Ability to Increase Quality of Life for Diverse Communities

July 19, 2022

On June 30, 2022, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations Act into law, amounting to a $50.6 billion budget for the state for Fiscal Year 2023.

As quoted on insidernj.com, New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver said of the budget, "I am incredibly proud of Governor Murphy, the New Jersey Legislature, and this Administration as a whole for what we have been able to accomplish with this budget. We will continue to meet our promise of making New Jersey a stronger, fairer, more affordable state of opportunity."

Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA, highlighted in her article a number of initiatives that will greatly benefit the state of behavioral health in New Jersey, such as a $39 million increase to behavioral healthcare workers' wages; the continuance of the $1 million increase for the original 11 Early Intervention Support Services (EISS) programs; and a $4.6 million investment to bring rates for pediatric outpatient services, including psychiatric evaluation, outpatient therapy and partial care, to parity with adult rates.

Dr. Wentz wrote, "The low rates for these pediatric services had only exacerbated the decreasing access to child psychiatrists and other youth services. The rate for a child's psychiatric assessment had been just $130 compared to the adult rate of $438, worsening the accessibility of child psychiatric care." Dr. Wentz continued, "The increase for youth partial care rates is no less significant as it will enable many to thrive like Zhan. At 10 years old, Zhan was referred to CFG Health Systems' A Step Ahead Elmer program. Originally expected to need a residential placement, the program empowered Zhan to stabilize her mood and gave her a confidence-boosting sense of achievement when she graduated the program on the highest level. Zhan became a role model for her peers and a leader in the program, which is preparing her for many more successes throughout middle and high school and beyond."

Another such inspiring and heartwarming story presented by Dr. Wentz was that of Jamal, an individual dealing with anxiety and depression who was able to achieve significant improvements in his symptoms within just three weeks of engaging in treatment with Robert Wood Johnson Monmouth Medical Center's EISS program. Dr. Wentz wrote, "He rediscovered excitement in both hobbies and work, and re-engaged with his family and friends, from whom he had completely withdrawn before receiving these services."

It is through continued investment in such services that can significantly improve the lives of New Jersey residents with any behavioral health issues they are dealing with and wherever they reside.

Click here to read the full article written by Dr. Wentz for more information.

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