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Support Bill H.1805 which would create a commission of stakeholders

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Committee

Testimony of Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts

May 14, 2013

Bill H.1805

 Honorable Chairs and Members of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Committee:

My name is Laurie Martinelli, and I am the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass).

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services and treatment, and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness for all of those in need. Since our inception in 1979, NAMI has been dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

We are here today to urge the committee to support Bill H.1805 which would create a commission of stakeholders that would work together with the Department of Mental Health in its mission to implement Community Based Flexible Supports (CBFS).

CBFS services are an essential part of the Commonwealth’s mental health system. These services provide adults with autonomy in their care and support in their community. This support comes from a multitude of vendors who work with the client, whether they are living at home, in an apartment or in a group home, to develop a plan that fits their needs. The flexibility that this model gives the client is hallmark that people have come to expect from DMH.  NAMI Mass supports the work DMH has done to provide mental health services in the community.

This legislation provides an opportunity for a diverse group of stakeholders to collaborate in order to maintain and improve CBFS. Oversight of these services is crucial and will allow invested stakeholders, including family members to participate in the oversight of CBFS services.  Oversight of CBFS will help prevent human rights violations – even one violation is one too many, and this Commission will work together to keep vulnerable populations safe.

In doing so, the Commission also has the opportunity to evaluate CBFS using the expertise of a varied group of stakeholders with the goal of making their services as high quality and flexible as possible. The Commission is a proactive means of enhancing the scope and quality of community services, and NAMI Mass looks forward to being a part of it.

We urge that this bill be reported favorably by the Committee.

Thank you for your time.

Restore 9C Cuts to the FY2013 Mental Health Budget

May 15, 2013

Governor Deval Patrick
Office of the Governor
State House – Room 280
Boston, MA  02133

Re:  Restore 9C Cuts to the FY2013 Mental Health Budget

Dear Governor Patrick:

In light of continued strong revenue collections, I am writing on behalf of NAMI Massachusetts to urge you to consider restoring the 9C Cuts to the Mental Health Line Items in the FY2013 budget. Respectfully, I would suggest that restoring funding for services to the mental health community is fiscally responsible and critically necessary.

NAMI Massachusetts can appreciate the difficulty of balancing infinite needs with increasingly finite resources during times of economic distress. Making cuts to programs is never easy and we understand the dilemma you were faced with last year. Sadly, the cuts made to the variety of accounts within the Department of Mental Health budget have had a profound and detrimental impact on adults and children who were on the road to rebuilding their lives as contributing members of the community.  Restoration of these cuts will greatly help because for many people, these programs are often the last resort before costly hospitalization.

Your action to restore the funding is the right choice at the right time which will help to reduce the need for emergency rooms, homeless shelters, jails and schools to struggle with the costly effects of untreated mental illness.  NAMI Massachusetts has been working to increase funding for needed community-based mental health services and thousands of families and individuals facing challenges are counting on you at this time.

Attached is a table highlighting the accounts and programs we are asking you to restore. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Laurie Martinelli

Executive Director

ATTACHED 9C cuts

FY2013 Mid Year 9C Cuts to Mental Health Accounts

Line

Item

Description

FY12

Spending

FY 13

Before Cuts

9C Cut

5011

-0100

Department of Mental HealthAdministration and Operations

25,453,167

27,373,198

-338,057

5042

-5000

Child and Adolescent MentalHealth Services

69,399,645

76,816,757

-1,890,000

5046

-0000

Mental Health Services Including Adult Homeless and Emergency

330,141,005

346,027,150

-1,962,186

5047

-0001

Emergency Services andMental Health Care

34,596,130

35,242,254

-500,000

5095

-0015

Inpatient Facilities andCommunity-Based

Mental Health Service

143,557,523

167,313,321

-2,723,359

8000

-1800

Mental Health PublicSafety Training

125,000

125,000

-125,000

Total Cuts

     

-7,538,602

Download the NAMI Mass 9c Letter to the Governor

 

NAMI Newton-Wellesley hosts NAMI Massachusetts Staff as speakers

January 24, 7:30-9:30pm

Newton-Wellesely Hospital

Bowles 2

Refreshments will be served

Featured NAMI Massachusetts Staff:

Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director

Valerie Hammond, Director of Children & Adolescent Programs

Karen Gromis, Events and Walk manager

For more information visit their website http://sites/google/com/site/naminewtonwellesely

Testimony on H.B. 1174 An Act Requiring Mental Health Parity For Disability Policies

House Bill 1174

An Act Requiring Mental Health Parity For Disability Policies

January 24, 2012

Testimony of Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Massachusetts)

Honorable Chairs and Members of the Committee:

My name is Laurie Martinelli, and I am the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Massachusetts).

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services and treatment, and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness for all of those in need. Since our inception in 1979, NAMI has been dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

We are here today to advocate for a health care system that ensures equal access to treatment for those with mental illness, and specifically I am here today in support of House Bill 1174, an act which would require parity for both mental health and physical health in disability insurance.

Today, we have a system where physical health coverage is not equal to mental health coverage in disability insurance.  The disability insurance system that exists  covers physical disabilities for life, and only covers mental disabilities for two years. This difference is called discrimination and is patently unfair.

The Legislature has redressed this inequity in the Parity legislation that it passed in 2000 and again in 2009 – parity created fundamental fairness between mental illness and physical illness by requiring health insurance for “biologically based” illnesses.  NAMI is asking for this same equal coverage by disability policies for both mental and physical health.

Our state’s mental health care crisis is everyone’s problem and its solution is everyone’s responsibility.

Passing this H. 1174 would not require an outlay of any taxpayer money, a resource we know is in short supply these days.

It would require companies that provide short and long term disability insurance to cover physical disabilities and mental disabilities for the same length of time, and it would require these companies to not have any different limitations for behavioral health coverage than those than exist for physical health.

We know that there are costs involved in funding shelters, hospital emergency departments, and the criminal justice system – costs that are increased as programs for people with mental illness are decreased.  This bill would ensure that people with mental illness that are not able to work for a period of time would receive the coverage afforded by their disability policies. Otherwise, they are forced to access and rely upon state funded safety net services.

Many people who go on disability insurance can, with treatment and time, return to work and again be productive members of society. This bill would help ensure that the insurance coverage they have would cover some of the costs associated with their recovery from mental illness.

NAMI has brought both consumers (and peers) and experts here today to testify on the impact this has on the community, and also to discuss the underlying assumptions behind excluding mental health issues, that mental illness is not malingering or the idea that mental illness is not a real illness in the same way that diabetes is an illness.

NAMI urges the committee to issue a favorable report on House Bill 1174.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.