● A508/S2668: Establishes annual cost of living adjustment based on Consumer Price Index for programs providing mental health, substance use treatment, or services to persons with developmental disabilities.
● This bill would not require the state to automatically raise rates, just to start the budget process with a cost-of-living adjustment in the budget proposal. The Legislature/Governor would still have the final say on spending.
● Since New Jersey transitioned to a fee for service model, many rates have not kept up with inflation.
● Investing in community disability/mental health programming saves New Jersey substantial money by keeping people out of inpatient and carceral settings.
● Nationally, 83% of intellectual and developmental disability service providers are turning away new referrals according to the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)
● This lack of investment means thousands of people are being turned away for services they are qualified for.
● In New Jersey, community mental health providers have seen health care costs for employees rise 11.5% in 2022 according to New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA).
● The coming carve in of managed care in mental health/substance use treatment services in Medicaid will result in even less money available to provide services.
● Passing this bill would provide greater certainty to the state and providers on what investment in community disability/mental health services should be.
● The estimated cost to the state of $90.5 million (Aug. 2022) after revenues is very reasonable for a high inflation year.
● Without sustained investment over time, a system already under duress will collapse. We can only squeeze water from a stone for so long.