NJAMHAA - 2021 Advocacy Piece

5 F irst and foremost, a strong community-based behavioral health system requires the workforce investments noted in the previous pages. Those investments must be in addition to pre-emptively filling the budget holes providers have faced under FFS with a $25 million appropriation. It has never been acceptable that FFS resulted in reduced revenues for not just the same work, but for expanded requirements under FFS that included new staffing to meet mandated co-occurring services, and to meet smaller group ratios and longer group times, among other changes. With the many added expenses and workforce issues providers have faced amidst the pandemic, closing this glaring gap between the cost of providing ser- vices and the reimbursement received under many inadequate FFS rates must be a priority if New Jersey wishes to sustain the system. Build on Existing Programs Early Intervention Support Services (EISS) and Screening Services Amidst overflowing emergency rooms (ERs), New Jersey should also move now to reduce the number of individuals arriving there for behavioral health issues by finally expanding the Early Interven- tion Support Services (EISS) program to all 21 counties. Currently available in only 11 New Jersey counties (Burlington, Cape May, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties do not have EISS programs), this program serves to both divert individuals from emergency rooms and to assist those who have visited an ER and been discharged to the community. These programs, often based on a “living roommodel” of care and comparable to urgent care centers, are an essential component of the future of behavioral health, offering easy access to not only individuals in crisis but available to all before they reach a crisis stage. Most EISS programs are affiliated with Screening Centers to maximize diversion from hospitalizations. Amendments to last session’s EISS expansion bill (S1635) required each EISS program to have a written affiliation with at least one Screening Center and also provided for a phase-in of the 10 county expansion. These amend- ments are needed in the current EISS expansion bills before the Legislature (S1137/A1242). Also needed is an appropriation for the newly established (2020) opportunity for Screening Centers to submit proposals to increase their mobile, satellite and other outreach services that have the potential to further reduce emergency room visits and hospitaliza- tions. Appropriate $25 million in the FY2022 and future budgets to cover deficits caused by FFS until rates are reviewed for adequacy and adjusted accordingly to sustain the system. BUDGET PRIORITY LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY Pass S1137/A1242 (with amendments) to expand the EISS program to all 21 New Jersey counties over three years. Appropriate $1.5 million to support the Screening Center outreach and early intervention grant program. BUDGET PRIORITY