Current Advocacy / Issues

UPDATED 3/12/2019

 

Federal

State

 

Federal

Excellence in Mental Health Act: Also of continuing interest at the federal level is the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which would extend and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program. New Jersey is one of eight states participating in the two year demonstration.


1/22/19: NJAMHAA is asking all members to sign on to a letter in support of the Excellence in Mental Health Act – this request went to CCBHC agencies on Friday and will go out to all members today.

 

State

(Names following the bill numbers are primary and co-sponsors.)

Fee-for-Service (FFS) Supplemental – S2935 Greenstein / A4336 Benson

NJAMHAA was successful in getting a line in the FY2019 State Budget to support agencies facing deficits from inadequate FFS rates, though it was only funded with $500,000. NJAMHAA has now successfully gotten a Supplemental bill introduced that would add $25 million, the amount that was originally sought.

NJAMHAA encourages every member to ask their state Assembly members and Senators to support these bills. NJAMHAA will start sending alerts on specific actions to take very soon.

1/22/19: NJAMHAA has been speaking to legislators and the Administration to see the supplemental bills get a hearing. We will be sending a legislative alert soon to ask for your assistance in building support.

 

Early Intervention Support Services (EISS) Expansion – S1635 Vitale, Singleton / A2391 Schaer, Benson, Johnson (Co: Pinkin, Verrelli)

NJAMHAA has been working for a couple of years with Assemblyman Schaer and Senator Vitale to pass these bills, which would expand the EISS program to all 21 counties (currently, EISS is only in 11 counties – you can view the map here). The bill received broad bipartisan support last year in both the Assembly and Senate and is expected to pass and be signed into law in the current session.

Support for this bill should also be expressed to your representatives whenever you have contact with them. The Assembly EISS bill unanimously passed the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on 9/13/18 and has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee

1/22/19: Minor changes to the bill that NJAMHAA had requested are being made. It is also anticipated that language will be added to indicate incremental implementation to reduce the current year’s budget request for this expansion. We have heard that the Governor would be willing to sign the bill with these changes.

 

Screening Services Expansion – S1032 Vitale / A2389 Schaer, Benson

This bill has also been in the works for a couple of years and received almost unanimous support passing through both houses last session; it just didn’t make it on a calendar for a final vote in the Senate. It would establish a grant program for existing screening centers to apply for funds to enhance their services to their respective communities through expanded mobile services, satellite offices or other enhancements tailored to each community. This, too, is expected to pass in the current session. Please voice your support to your representatives. The Assembly bill unanimously passed the Assembly Human Services Committee on 10/18/18 and has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee

1/22/19: The sponsors recently agreed to a minor edit in the bill that NJAMHAA requested. We hope to see this bill move when the EISS bill starts moving.

 

Department of Motor Vehicles Registration Fees – S2559 Holzapfel (Co: Bucco, Singer) / A3965 Wolfe, DeCroce

In 2017, the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles began charging non-profits registration fees for their fleet vehicles. NJAMHAA worked to get this reversed – first through the Red Tape Commission, then directly with the Christie Administration, to no avail; it would need a legislative fix. In June of this year, NJAMHAA was successful in having S2559, a bill which would have exempted Meals on Wheels’ vehicles from the fees, amended to include not only mental health and substance use treatment providers, but all non-profits. We will continue to work on seeing this is passed in to law. Please encourage your representatives to sign onto S2559/A3965.

1/22/19: NJAMHAA is also working with legislators to get this bill moving. This too will be the focus of a legislative alert in the near future in our effort to get greater bipartisan support/sponsorship.

 

Psychiatric APNs Added to Screening Process – 2018: S2838 Vitale/Cunningham / A4424 V Huttle, Eustace, McKnight

NJAMHAA worked for many months last year with Senator Vitale’s office on this bill, which would amend the screening statute to allow psychiatric advanced practice nurses to complete screening certificates. It was supposed to be on one of the final calendars of the last session, but was held at the last minute following concerns by one of the sponsors regarding amended language. We look forward to having the same bill reintroduced by Senator Vitale and Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle soon.

(Please note: We are NOT in support of S2049 Cryan/A2792 Munoz introduced this session as a re-introduction of Senator Vitale’s and Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle’s prior session bills – they are very different.) NJAMHAA continues to work with the sponsors and other advocates to finalize the language in this bill.

1/22/19: NJAMHAA recently participated in a call on this bill with all stakeholders to ensure all were on board with the latest language. We hope to see Senator Vitale reintroduce this bill soon.

 

Children’s Involuntary Commitment S1645 Diegnan / A3986 Dancer

S1645 was recently scheduled for a vote in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, but was pulled after NJAMHAA and other stakeholders expressed concern. We have thoroughly reviewed the legislation and related documents and are now developing written material outlining all of our concerns and recommendations. Among our concerns is that the bill would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to be placed on adult units. Currently, the sponsor is amending the bill and will be sharing those amendments with NJAMHAA when completed. Please share any feedback you have on this bill with Mary Abrams at mabrams@njamhaa.org.

10/12/18: NJAMHAA has provided written recommendations to Senator Diegnan. We will continue to work with the sponsors and provide updates and alerts as warranted. This bill was amended by the Office of Legislative Services at the request of Senator Diegnan who is now reviewing the latest version. Senator Diegnan’s office intends to share the new draft with NJAMHAA before it is again placed on a hearing calendar.

1/22/19: NJAMHAA shared its recommendations and bill markup with all members recently and invites feedback. We are still waiting for Senator Diegnan’s office to share the amended bill.

 

Certification Program for Recovery Residences S2515 Brown/Vitale / A3607 Mazzeo/Armato/Chiaravalloti

This bill would have the Department of Health identify an entity to establish and carry out a certification program for both professionally-managed and peer-managed recovery residences, as well as for professional managers. It also states that recovery residences, whether certified or not, are not health care facilities, substance use treatment facilities, or boarding homes, and are exempt from all rules and regulations covering those facilities. It also exempts certified recovery residences from all “rules and regulations governing the operation or certification of recovery residences or sober living homes” adopted prior to this Act. Of note, the definition of a recovery residence is for “drug free living” which would preclude those on medication assisted treatment from residing in certified residences. A3607 was unanimously passed by the Assembly Human Services Committee with minor amendment on 10/18/18 and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

1/22/19: This bill passed in the Assembly and has been referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. NJAMHAA has reached out to Senator Vitale’s office to discuss our concerns about excluding individuals on MAT from these residences.

 

  NEW: 1/22/19: Prohibiting Pre-Authorizations by Medicaid for MAT S3314 Vitale/Cryan / A4744 Greenwald/Armato/ Vainieri Huttle

NJAMHAA fully supports the concept of this bill, but has two major concerns: the bill redefines MAT, leaving out counseling services and the bill should also prohibit pre-authorizations for treatment paid for with state funds (through NJMHAPP).

1/22/19: The bill is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 24th with the Assembly Human Services Committee. NJAMHAA will be testifying. NJAMHAA continues to work with Majority Leader Greenwald’s office and is waiting to hear what amendments, if any, are to be made by Thursday.

 

Other Topics of interest:

 

 FFS Oversight Board

1/22/19: Members have been appointed (though one vacancy exists) and the first meeting has been scheduled for February 22nd.

Theresa L. Edelstein, NJHA; Vera Sansone, CPC Behavioral Health; Mary Abrams, NJAMHAA; Phil Lubitz, NAMI – NJ; Barb Johnston, MHANJ; Susan Loughery, Catholic Charities – Trenton; Tonia Ahern, Consumer Rep.; Kathleen Powers, CPA; Kendria McWilliams, Maryville Addiction Treatment; Bob Budsock, Integrity House; Jim Cooney, Ocean Mental Health Services; Marie Verna, Consumer Rep.

 

Minimum Wage – NJAMHAA has been speaking to legislators and policymakers for the past couple of years regarding additional funding that will be needed for non-profits following any increase in the minimum wage, including for those professionals who will need to have salaries “bumped” up above the new minimum. NJAMHAA will be distributing a survey soon to gather data on the impact minimum wage increases will have on our members.

10/12/18: NJAMHAA distributed a survey on October 10th; a second request will go out October 17th. After the survey is closed, a summary of its results will be provided.

11/08/18: Sixteen organizations responded to NJAMHAA’s survey on the impact of minimum wage increases. Two organizations indicated they would be significantly impacted. A summary of the results will be shared soon.

1/22/19: Agreement has been reached on the minimum wage bill which is likely to be passed soon. NJAMHAA will continue to advocate for and monitor appropriate funding to providers.

 

Duty to Warn – Changes to the Duty to Warn statute were signed into law recently. The standard for a duty to warn to exist has not changed from “a reasonable professional in the practitioner's area of expertise would believe the patient intended to carry out an act of imminent, serious physical violence against a readily identifiable individual or against himself.” However, before, healthcare professionals had several options for acting on that duty to warn. Now, all must include notification of law enforcement among their responses. This applies to those who are suicidal and to voluntary admissions. The existing system already had in place a process whereby information on involuntary admissions was made available to law enforcement.

NJAMHAA does not have consensus among our members on the changes to the Duty to Warn provisions, but recognizes the serious concerns many have. As a member of the New Jersey Mental Health Coalition, we will be involved in drafting a letter to the Attorney General and reaching out to others to share some of those concerns and make recommendations for implementation. (Note: There are no regulations currently – only the statute exists, so it is not clear if the state intends to promulgate regulations now.)

Among the recommendations we will be making are:

1. Only a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained officer may respond to a Duty to Warn report made to law enforcement.

2. All police officers must receive training on the statute and how it will be implemented.

There may be others – these were the two fully agreed upon so far. If you have any recommendations to make, please share them with Mary Abrams at mabrams@njamhaa.org who will share them with the Coalition.

11/08/18: NJAMHAA met recently with staff from the Attorney General’s office and shared the following recommendations which we were assured would be forwarded to the appropriate staff:

- Duty to Warn reports should be filed with the Attorney General’s office, where the check for firearm permits for the individual and/or household could be conducted.  The AG’s office would, in turn, as warranted, relay information to local law enforcement.

- Only Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained officers will be dispatched for firearm seizure.

- Training on the Duty to Warn statute should be provided to all police officers so they are all aware of the process and responsibilities of the various parties.

- Guidance should be distributed to all local law enforcement entities to ensure awareness and consistent implementation of the law.

 

Recently Passed Legislation:

The Legislature passed and Governor Murphy recently signed both a parity law that strengthened and expanded existing federal and state law and a law requiring Narcan in high schools and permitting other schools to obtain and administer it, as well.

 

Upcoming Legislation:

NJAMHAA was recently consulted on a draft bill that would prohibit pre-authorizations for most medication assisted treatment. We are waiting to see a new version of the bill.

 

Other:

NJAMHAA continues to strongly advocate with Legislators and the Administration to see the FFS Oversight Law we got passed in May of 2017 implemented.

11/08/18: The Department of Human Services reached out to NJAMHAA this week regarding our participation on the Oversight Board, though no formal correspondence has been received yet regarding its establishment.

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