Mental Health America Urges Congress to Reject House Budget Plan
Dangerous Cuts to Medicaid, Health Funding
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or email@example.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 21, 2012)—Mental Health America today urged the House Budget Committee to reject a Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), calling the deep cuts to Medicaid included in the plan a radical approach that would likely lead to an increase in the number of Americans unable to receive essential care.
The budget plan unveiled this week would cut Medicaid, the largest source of funding for mental health services nationally, by $810 billion over the next 10 years and convert it into a block grant.
The plan would also gut discretionary health funding by cutting below the levels agreed to last year under the deficit spending plan (the Budget Control Act).
“The cuts to Medicaid and public health programs are dangerous and would place millions of Americans at risk of not being able to afford the behavioral health care they need,” said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. “For 14.7 million seniors and people with disabilities (nearly 25 percent of all Medicaid beneficiaries are seniors and individuals with disabilities, including mental health conditions), Medicaid is a vital safety net that provides access to care in the community.
“Such deep cuts would imperil our public health system and further exacerbate the problems mental health systems are experiencing, given that states have cut mental health agency budgets by a combined total of nearly $4 billion over the last three fiscal years, the largest reduction in mental health spending since the 1960s.”
Dr. Shern said public health programs have already borne more than their fair share of the responsibility for deficit reduction—with two straight years of funding cuts and a looming sequester that will cut even deeper.
"This budget ignores the balanced approaches called for by every credible, bipartisan deficit reduction plan and further damage an already fragile safety net," he said.
Noting that half of Medicaid recipients are children, Dr. Shern said the plan threatens their well-being.
"Access to cost-effective screening and treatment programs now funded by Medicaid often make a major difference for children with disabilities and allow them to live full and productive lives," he said.
He said the cuts to discretionary spending would also severely jeopardize funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Prevention and Public Health Fund and other agencies, which all play a critical role in allowing individuals with, or at risk, of a mental health condition achieve recovery and live a productive life in their communitiess.
Dr. Shern said the budget plan's proposal to repeal the health reform law would limit access to care and undermine the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which bans insurers from placing discriminatory limits on mental health and addiction services.
Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net) is the nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.