Health Association in New York State, Inc.
Community Connections, Spring 2003
Law Vital for Special Housing Programs
In 1993, New York State embarked upon a revolutionary policy to capture the savings resulting from the reduction of state-operated inpatient beds and made them available for community-based programs. This concept was revolutionary in that it ensured that funding followed individuals recovering from mental illness from inpatient settings to community-based mental health services. Unfortunately, for nearly the past two years, “Reinvestment" of funds has not occurred due to the expiration of the Community Mental Health Reinvestment Act in September of 2001.
However, with the Legislature's passage and subsequent override of Governor Pataki's veto of this legislation as part of the 2003-2004 budget, Reinvestment is once again the policy of New York State with the immediate enactment of the Community Mental Health Support and Workforce Reinvestment Act. Under this new policy, funds resulting from the downsizing of the state-operated inpatient system, including the closure of facilities, will be directed primarily towards initiatives to recruit and retain qualified staff for community-based mental health programs.
Qualified, stable staffing is crucial to the delivery of effective mental health treatment and housing programs. Without them, inconsistencies in medication distribution, case management, and a variety of other important responsibilities can hinder recovery or even result in setbacks for individuals recovering from mental illness. The new Reinvestment Act will help ensure that there is direct care staff of the highest caliber providing services to individuals living with mental illness in the various housing programs. Two of the four cornerstones of a comprehensive system of community-based mental healthcare are appropriate housing and a secure funding stream. The Legislature deserves credit for their actions to help achieve both of these crucial components through the enactment of the Community Mental Health Support and Workforce Reinvestment Act.