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Government News
Mental Health Groups Distressed Over Bush Budget
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 6 page 9-9

Two national mental health coalitions to which APA belongs expressed disappointment and concern last month over President George W. Bush's proposed budget cuts to federally funded mental health services in Fiscal 2006 (see story above).

The Campaign for Mental Health Reform, a coalition representing millions of people with mental or emotional disorders and their families and numerous professional and advocacy organizations, condemned Bush's proposed budget in a press release last month.

The coalition criticized the president's budget for "undermining the already overburdened services that are crucial to people with mental illnesses," said campaign coordinator William Emmet in the press release. The president's budget proposes "tens of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, the largest provider of funding for public mental health services, and slashes discretionary spending on mental health," he continued.

Earlier this month the Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG), which represents more than 50 national professional, research, and patient advocacy groups, called for increases in the federal budget for mental health services and research.

The MHLG's recommendations are detailed in its 2006 advocacy pamphlet. The coalition uses the pamphlet to educate members of Congress about the programs that play a significant role in the lives of people with mental or emotional disorders.

For Fiscal 2006 Bush proposed a 7 percent ($64 million) cut from the Fiscal 2005 level for the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS; see chart at right). That decease included about $30 million cut in CMHS jail-diversion and youth-violence prevention programs. The remaining $34 million would come from grant programs that are no longer operating, according to Lizbet Boroughs, an associate director in APA's Department of Government Relations.

In contrast, the MHLG is recommending a 9 percent ($81 million) increase in the CMHS budget for Fiscal 2006, which would be distributed across all of the agency's programs.FIG1

The coalition is also calling for an 8 percent increase for Programs of Regional and National Significance (PRNS) at the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), and an 8 percent increase for block-grant and PRNS funding at the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

In response to the president's minuscule proposed increases for the National Institute of Mental Health (.41 percent), National Institute on Drug Abuse (.33 percent), and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (.34 percent), the MHLG is recommending a 6 percent budget increase for each agency (see table).

The Mental Health Liaison Group's appropriations recommendations for FY 2006 are posted online at<www.mhlg.org>. The Campaign for Mental Health Reform's Web site is<www.mhreform.org>.

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