White House Budget: Shortchanging Americans with Mental Illness
Proposed Cuts Threatens Recovery and Prevention Programs
Heather Cobb at 703-797-2588
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (February 7, 2007) - The White House's proposed budget for FY 2008 would critically shortchange Americans with mental health needs. Mental Health America and our 320 affiliates urge Congress to fight for children and adults, including our nation's veterans, living with, or at risk of, mental illnesses by rejecting cuts and "reforms" to critical federal programs as proposed in this budget.
"The President's budget zeroes in on several key areas that, if cut, would thwart consumer involvement in the recovery process and threaten the well-being of our nation's children," said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "Cuts to recovery and prevention programs, which have relatively small price tags in comparison with other budget items, would not move the needle significantly in balancing the budget. Targeting these programs demonstrates that consumer involvement in recovery and prevention is not prioritized by the Administration."
The Administration's Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposes to:
- Cut Medicaid by $25.7 billion over five years. A primary target each year, this budget again aims at America's primary health care safety net. This program is the single largest source of funding for mental health services.
- Cut $3.6 billion from Medicaid school-based transportation and administrative services that link children with the care they need.
- Short-change the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by failing to fill an expected funding shortfall that will cause hundreds of thousands of children to be disenrolled from the program and by completely failing to address the problem that seven out of 10 uninsured kids are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid or SCHIP.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
- Eliminate the entire $2 million budget for the Consumer Technical Assistance Centers, despite mounting evidence by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health of the important role played by consumer-run organization s in recovery from mental illness.
- Cut suicide prevention by $3 million, at time when suicide rates are nearly twice that for homicide.
- Cut youth violence prevention programs by $18 million or 20 percent, in spite of significant outcome data indicating the program's success.
- Cut post-traumatic stress disorder programs for youth by $1.5 million, in the face of the tremendous needs of military families and children in the wake of major disasters.
- Cut the Transformation State Incentive Grants by $6 million, only 18 months after the release of the SAMHSA Federal Action Agenda calling for greater collaboration.
- Cut funding for the juvenile justice systems by 25 percent, from nearly $340 to $254 million, and for the dismantling of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. It is estimated that 80% of youth in juvenile justice facilities lives with a mental health or substance abuse disorder.
- Eliminate the entire budgets for the School Counselors Program (a cut of $35 million) and the Mental Health Integration in Schools Grant (a cut of $4.9 million).
- Cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration budget, at a time when we must increase investments in health promotion and disease prevention.
- Slash the Section 811 Supportive Housing Program for people with disabilities by $113 million, or 46%.
Mental Health America calls on Congress to reject these profound cuts and "reforms" to critical federal programs as proposed in this budget. Mental Health America looks forward to working with the nation's leaders to determine solutions that are both fiscally and socially responsible.
For more information, please visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation-everyday and in times of crisis.
# # #