New York State Attorney General Letitia James held a hearing on June 22 on access to mental health care for people with serious mental illness. The Attorney General highlighted the inadequacy of Medicaid reimbursement rates for behavioral health services and the inaccessibility of behavioral health care and psychiatric beds for many communities. She also argued that community-based care has been “under-resourced.” GNYHA Vice President Alison Burke testified (attached) on behalf of our member hospitals. Her testimony described obstacles to delivering behavioral health services, major new investments made by the State budget, and the transition from institutional to community-based care.
New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), chair of the Senate Health Committee, testified about the increased demand for mental health services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce challenges, and the inadequacy of Medicaid reimbursement. New York City Council Member Linda Lee (D-Queens), chair of the Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions, argued for increasing the availability of inpatient psychiatric beds, better coordination among government agencies and public and private providers, higher reimbursement rates, and further workforce investments. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD, called for increasing access to community-based services as a form of crisis prevention for people with serious mental illness. Various advocacy groups, unions, and others also highlighted challenges to providing mental health services and offered suggestions for how to improve them.
Video of the hearing is available here.