NJAMHAA - 2021 Advocacy Piece

Integrated Care Not all providers of mental health and substance use treatment will evolve into CCBHCs, but they will all continue moving toward various models of integrated care. Core among the services that individuals with mental health and substance use disorders need ready access to is primary health care, as they experience an inordinate level of serious comorbidities. Outcomes for these “high utilizers”, that small proportion of patients using the greatest amount of healthcare resources, and the state’s bottom line, are positively impacted when primary health care can readily be coordinated and delivered by behavioral health providers serving this population. It is long overdue for New Jersey to provide capital funding to community- based behavioral health providers for facility renovation and/or expansion to meet these goals, and do away with burdensome regulatory barriers that prevent organizations from providing invaluable and cost- effective integrated care. Liability Protection In March of 2020, community-based behavioral health providers moved quickly to ensure the safety of their staff and clients in response to the pandemic. Having shifted overnight to remote working, securing their own personal protective equipment, enlisting cleaning services, installing plexiglass, putting spare building spaces into use, increasing shifts and transportation runs to support social distancing, and more, they continue to do all within their power to keep everyone safe. Liability protections for those organizations that have complied with all applicable guidelines, and that in no way impact the right of employees to assert all of their existing legal rights should they be exposed to the virus on the job, should not be a controversial issue. Such protections would simply help providers avoid unnecessary, costly lawsuits while simultaneously ensuring a maximum degree of safety in the workplace. Appropriate $10 million as an initial investment into facility resources for behavioral health providers to further develop integrated care. BUDGET PRIORITY LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY Pass legislation to provide liability protection to behavioral health organizations that comply with applicable COVID-19 safety guidelines. Jennifer, who graduated fromPreferred Behavioral Health Group’s Shore Adolescent Independent Living (SAIL) program, shared the following: “At SAIL, I learned that I amnot a bad person. I have becomemore responsible, mature, empathetic and insightful. I learned that people in life sometimes just don’t like you and when that happens, you can either walk away or let themnot like you and then give yourself a spotlight to show themhow strong you can become. I learned that my sister and I might be different, but I have to let her be her own person. And I learned that sometimes people or things in this world do not change, so you have to change your environment or your reaction to those things. I want to thank the SAIL staff and other kids for being there, so I would not fall backwards and I can improve onmyself.” SAIL: JENNIFER CROSSES THE BRIDGE TO MATURITY 9