Key Issues & Priorities

advocacy

CURRENT PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES AND HOT TOPICS

At NAMI, we follow the current public policy issues and “hot topics” at the local county level, state level, and federal level. We study and analyze the issues and provide summaries of policies, legislation, and various systems problems and needs.

LOCAL: On the local county levels, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania monitors the block grant plans, which have replaced the old, state mental health plan completed by the county MH/ID Administrators. County Block Grants are posted on the county human services websites.

NAMI’s advocacy efforts can be different in each county depending on the identified area of system need. Mental health treatment in county jails, housing needs, and drug overdose deaths are examples of local, county-level issues.

 

STATE: On the state level in Pennsylvania, NAMI’s advocacy activities are focused on three main areas: annual state budget, legislation, and the Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health Substance Abuse Services’ (OMHSAS) policy and regulations.

Current public policy issues we are monitoring in Pennsylvania:

Hot Topic: 2017-2018 PA State Budget Bill (HB 218)

In April, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed
House Bill 218, including deep cuts to several human-services programs:
  • $9 million in cuts to mental health and substance use disorder funding means more Pennsylvanians would be institutionalized instead of served in the community
  • Reduction of $5 million in community mental health county allocations
  • Reduction of $4 million to county behavioral health funding
  • $4.8 million in cuts to counties
  • $6 million in cuts to home and community-based services

Our Position: We absolutely oppose any cuts to mental health funding. PA House Bill 218 will have a devastating impact on vulnerable Pennsylvanians if passed as is.  

Other state legislation NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania is following:

HB 1233
HB 1233 is Representative Murt’s AOT (Assisted Outpatient Treatment) bill reintroduced with each new legislative session.

 

FEDERAL: Our federal level advocacy often involves public comments to CMS (Center for Medicare Medicaid) and various legislation regarding mental health, housing, healthcare, education, and justice related issues. NAMI Keystone PA meets locally and in Washington with Senators and our regional Representatives.

Hot Topic: Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017.

Last week, the U.S. Senate introduced the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017. This new bill seriously cuts into mental health coverage by allowing states to let health insurance plans drop mental health and substance use coverage, capping and reducing Medicaid, making it harder for people to get mental health services, and not requiring that Medicaid cover mental health services after 2019.

Our Position: NAMI Keystone PA opposes the BCRA. We urge everyone to tell our Senators that the BCRA will cause millions of people to lose their mental health coverage and will devastate our community mental health system by cutting Medicaid funding.

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