Testimony on HB 7027: AAC the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June Thirtieth 2019 Appropriations Committee Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services Budget

Esteemed members of the Appropriations Committee:

My name is Christine Limone.  I am submitting testimony on behalf of the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, a membership association of nearly 3,000 social workers across the state.  NASW/CT opposes the proposed budget for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Community based behavioral health interventions such as ACT, IPS Supported Employment, and Supported Housing have proven to be effective and cost efficient in supporting people’s recovery and reducing admissions to psychiatric hospitals or long term care facilities.  Any cuts to grants for community based mental health or substance abuse services is short sighted and will cost Connecticut more in the long run.

Recognizing that community based services are always more cost effective than institutional care, NASW/CT calls for the continued investments for caseload growth for adult services for the Money Follows The Person Demonstration program.  A national evaluation study of the MFP program that was published in December 20161 included Connecticut as one of the six states in the study.  This study cited strong transitions coordination services and integrated community based mental health services among the factors that contributed to the programs success in assisting Medicaid beneficiaries, including adults with serious mental illness, to move out of skilled nursing facilities and back into the communities of their choice.  This is a program that works and saves the state money.  To consider cutting funding for transition coordinators, one of the key factors in the programs success is not a prudent or sensible option.  Money Follows the Person is a Win –Win program for both the program participants and the state.  NASW/CT urges the Appropriation Committee not to cut MFP.

The state’s economic outlook is not a rosy one.  Tough choices need to be made.   However cutting funding to cost effective community based services for adults living with serious mental illness should not be part of the equation.

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