Government News
MH Funding Falls Far Short Of Need, APA Tells Congress
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 10 page 5-5

APA urged a key appropriations subcommittee in the House of Representatives last month to increase federal spending above President Bush’s budget request in Fiscal 2005 for biomedical research and mental health services.

Then-APA President Marcia Goin, M.D., testified to the subcommittee in both an oral presentation and a written statement.

"The subcommittee’s continuous support for medical research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health has brought tangible assistance to millions of Americans struggling with mental illnesses," she testified. "Your foresight in increasing funding for mental health research and services is deeply appreciated."

Goin continued, "APA recognizes the importance of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and its Center for Mental Health Services [CMHS] in helping states and communities improve and integrate mental health services."

On behalf of APA she requested that the budgets of all CMHS programs be increased by 12.5 percent for Fiscal 2005, which is twice the percentage the president requested (Psychiatric News, March 5). The 12.5 percent increase is advocated by the Mental Health Liaison Group, a coalition of more than 50 advocacy, patient, and professional groups including APA.

Goin reiterated APA’s support for the state Incentive Grants Transformation Program, a new initiative that Bush proposed in his CMHS budget request.

"These grants will give states the resources and technical assistance they need to deliver comprehensive services in an efficient and effective manner," Goin testified.

While APA supports the new state-grant program, it wants to ensure that they are not funded at the expense of other APA-supported CMHS initiatives, according to Lizbet Boroughs, an associate director of APA’s Department of Government Relations.

The president requested in his Fiscal 2005 budget to Congress that jail diversion programs be cut $3 million dollars, leaving a budget of $4 million. Moreover, the president did not request any funding for existing grant programs that provide mental health services to the elderly, according to Boroughs.

APA asked the House appropriations subcommittee to restore funding to these two programs in its budget bill.

"APA strongly supports programs to prevent people with mental illnesses from being incarcerated unnecessarily. We are grateful for Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s dedication in championing CMHS jail diversion programs," Goin testified.

When people with mental illnesses leave jail, jail diversion programs help provide housing, medical, and employment services that will keep them out of jail in the future, she explained.

"In many large cities, a person with mental illness coming out of jail is released with nothing more than a bus token and no medications or referrals to services. It is not surprising that most are rearrested within 30 to 60 days for another minor violation and reincarcerated," Goin pointed out.

APA and the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Funding are asking for a 10 percent increase in the Fiscal 2005 budget of the National Institute of Mental Health and similar budget increases for the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

"This is essential to maintain current commitments, expand clinical research, and take advantage of the most promising scientific opportunities in, for example, children’s mental disorders and clinical neuroscience. The funding could also be used to reduce the disparities in the mental health care of women and ethnic minorities," Goin testified.

The Senate appropriations process does not allow for public testimony, so APA’s advocacy efforts will involve a series of meetings with and letters to key committee members and their staffs, Boroughs told Psychiatric News. ▪

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