Late Friday night, congressional negotiators struck a deal on the budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 that narrowly averted a government shutdown. The deal makes a total of $38 billion in cuts for the remainder of the year, significantly less than the $61 billion originally passed by the House. The cuts include a $52 million reduction in funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, far less than the over $200 million approved by the House. The legislation does not identify specific SAMHSA programs that must be cut, meaning that SAMHSA will have to determine where to make the spending reductions in its budget.
These 2011 reductions are just the beginning of the ongoing budget battles that will take place over the coming months. As Congress begins to debate the 2012 budget and the national debt limit, mental health and addictions programs continue to be at risk! If you have not already done so, please take a moment to write a message to your members of Congress urging them to fight against cuts to behavioral healthcare. In addition, the National Council encourages you to invite your Members of Congress to visit your agency while they are on recess from April 18-29. This is a perfect opportunity for you to educate your legislators about the importance of the services your organization provides and show them the need for fully funding the behavioral health safety net.