House Subcommittee Approves Massive Cuts to 2013 Behavioral Health Funding

by Rebecca Farley on July 19, 2012

Linda Rosenberg

Funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would fall by over $300 million compared to last year under a 2013 funding bill approved this week by a House Appropriations subcommittee.

The subcommittee’s Labor-HHS-Education spending bill rejects the spending levels agreed to by both chambers of Congress in the 2011 Budget Control Act, instead cutting funding by a full $8.8 billion below the President’s budget request. The bill funds the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at $3.15 billion, which is $324 million less than in 2012 (a 9% reduction). It also rescinds funding from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, an additional $88 million hit to the agency compared to last year.

In a statement about the vote, National Council President and CEO Linda Rosenberg urged Congress to reject the subcommittee’s proposed 2013 funding levels. “These cuts will harm families and children who rely on federally funded programs for critical healthcare services,” she said, noting that these proposed cuts come on top of over $4 billion in state-level cuts to mental health services that have occurred over the course of the recession. “Community mental health and addiction treatment organizations provide services that help people lead healthy and productive lives – but funding cuts have left them to treat growing caseloads with fewer dollars,” she continued. “Many individuals living with mental illness and addictions are losing access to treatment as programs close or reduce services. Today’s funding cuts announced by the Subcommittee would only make this bad situation worse.”

Rather than adopting the House subcommittee version of the Labor-HHS-Education bill, said Rosenberg, the National Council urges Congress to use the Senate Appropriations Committee’s recommendations for FY 2013 SAMHSA funding as a starting point for budget negotiations. The Senate Appropriations Committee provided key increases and rejected proposed cuts, with an overall allocation of $3.47 billion for SAMHSA and an additional $88 million to be transferred from the Prevention and Public Health Fund. This top-line number would support level funding and important increases for a number of critical programs, including Primary Care-Behavioral Health Integration, the Mental Health Block Grant, and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, among others.

 

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