STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED JULY 31, 2017
Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE
District 37 (Bergen)
Assemblyman TIM EUSTACE
District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)
Assemblywoman CLEOPATRA G. TUCKER
District 28 (Essex)
Assemblywoman ANGELA V. MCKNIGHT
District 31 (Hudson)
Assemblyman DANIEL R. BENSON
District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)
Assemblyman RALPH R. CAPUTO
District 28 (Essex)
Assemblyman THOMAS P. GIBLIN
District 34 (Essex and Passaic)
Assemblywoman Muoio, Assemblyman Coughlin and Assemblywoman Jasey
Opposes Governor’s proposed transfer of Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services to DOH.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
A Concurrent Resolution opposing the Governor’s Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017 and its proposed transfer of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services to the Department of Health.
Whereas, On June 29, 2017, Governor Chris Christie issued Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017, which would transfer the State’s mental health and addiction prevention and treatment functions, including the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), from the Department of Human Services (DHS) to the Department of Health (DOH); and
Whereas, The Legislature recognizes that mental health and substance abuse diagnoses are indeed health issues, and that primary physical healthcare must be integrated with mental healthcare and addiction treatment; and
Whereas, The Legislature has advanced several legislative initiatives to integrate behavioral healthcare with primary care, break down barriers in the administration of care, and reduce stigma; and
Whereas, Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017 lacks a detailed integration strategy or policy change corresponding to the Plan’s stated purpose of healthcare integration, which undermines the progress made to date in behavioral and physical healthcare integration and which could significantly disrupt the delivery of critical behavioral health and addiction services to individuals in need; and
Whereas, Any such transfer could profoundly and immediately affect vulnerable individuals living with mental health and substance abuse disorders and their families, yet these individuals, service providers, and the Legislature did not have an opportunity to evaluate and consider the proposed transfer prior to the Governor’s filing of Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017; and
Whereas, On July 25, 2017, the Assembly Human Services Committee and the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee held a joint committee meeting on Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017. Representatives from over 20 organizations and stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the content, potential effects, and timing of the planned reorganization; and
Whereas, The author of a report referenced in Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017 testified that his research focused on regulatory alignment, and not a transfer of all behavioral health services to DOH; and
Whereas, Many individuals receiving services for mental health and addiction do so through the State’s Medicaid program, which is administered by DHS. A significant consequence of the proposed reorganization is that service providers would have to coordinate the administration of services with one department, DOH, and coordinate the payment of services with another department, DHS; and
Whereas, Separating behavioral health services from the Department that administers Medicaid, the source of funds for many of those services, could be detrimental to individuals receiving those services, and introduces another level of bureaucracy that must be navigated, potentially leading to service and payment disruptions; and
Whereas, The timing of the proposed transfer is also of concern, as mental health and addiction services providers are in the midst of transitioning to the fee-for-service payment system. The implementation of this new model has been challenging for the provider community and many organizations are still working on new strategies and policies to ensure financial viability and maintenance of critical services for vulnerable populations. An additional major change at this time may prove to be too much for already struggling providers, resulting in the closing of agencies and a reduction in affordable and accessible services; and
Whereas, DHS is in the process of advancing the integration of physical and behavioral healthcare. In its Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver Renewal Application, DHS advanced initiatives that further the integration of behavioral healthcare and physical healthcare with pilot programs such as behavioral health homes and certified community behavioral health clinics; and
Whereas, DHS provides necessary supports and services to individuals with mental health and addiction disorders, social services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, Work First New Jersey assistance, and supportive housing and employment assistance. Maintaining and improving integration of these supports with healthcare is critical to successful treatment and recovery; and
Whereas, Approximately 50 to 70 percent of individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, have co-occurring behavioral health disorders, yet the Reorganization Plan does not address the maintenance of coordinated care for individuals with developmental disabilities; and
Whereas, While DOH has experience overseeing general acute care hospitals, it is inexperienced in the direct operation of specialized psychiatric hospitals, which is a concern given the State’s recent resolution of the Olmstead settlement agreement for mental healthcare and the progress made toward de-institutionalization; and
Whereas, Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017 alters the fundamental responsibilities of DOH and DHS. DHS has comparatively more experience and expertise in administering the provision of services to large populations, while DOH has significant regulatory expertise and comparatively less experience concerning the provision of services, which is of particular concern given the opioid addiction crisis that is occurring in our State and around the country; and
Whereas, Following extensive testimony on the Reorganization Plan, great uncertainty remains as to the specific implementation of the Plan, whether consumer-level integration will be achieved by the Plan, and the effects the proposed reorganization will have on individuals who receive services, provider agencies, and employees; and
Whereas, To safeguard the health and best interests of all New Jerseyans, it is fitting and appropriate that any transfer of the State’s mental health and addiction prevention and treatment functions, powers, and duties be undertaken carefully, deliberately, and after appropriate consultation and review; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey (the Senate concurring):
1. For the foregoing reasons, the Legislature does not favor Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017, issued by Governor Christie on June 29, 2017, which would transfer the State’s mental health and addiction prevention and treatment functions, powers, and duties, including the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health. Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017 is therefore disapproved by the Legislature and shall not take effect, as provided in section 7 of the “Executive Reorganization Act of 1969,” P.L.1969, c.203 (C.52:14C-7).
2. Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly or the Secretary of the Senate to the Governor, the Commissioner of Health, and the Commissioner of Human Services.
This concurrent resolution opposes Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017, which was issued by the Governor on June 29, 2017. The Reorganization Plan would transfer the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and all of the State’s mental health and addiction prevention and treatment functions, powers, and duties from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health. Reorganization Plan No. 001-2017 is therefore disapproved by the Legislature and shall not take effect, as provided in section 7 of the “Executive Reorganization Act of 1969,” P.L.1969, c.203 (C.52:14C-7).