Thank you. Your advocacy made all the difference this year.
Pennsylvania’s 2022/23 General Fund budget is finally in the books, having been enacted one week after the official June 30 deadline. The $45.2 billion spending plan represents a 2.9% increase in state spending over the previous fiscal year. The wide-ranging budget, made possible by higher-than-expected revenues that led to a multibillion-dollar surplus, includes some extra funding for human services providers who assist individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families as well as more money for mental health services.
Despite record surpluses, the administration and lawmakers still negotiated a spending plan that keeps many other broader budget initiatives flat-lined. Although some of our line-item increases were less than requested, and even though direct payments for workforce issues are limited, the funding boosts we did receive will help human service providers that have faced chronic underfunding for years.
This much is clear: none of the modest success we achieved would have been possible without you.
Over the last five months, you helped our coalition deliver 8,296 messages directly to members of the General Assembly and the administration, plus another 706 social media hits tagging representatives and senators. Your engagement was evident from the start, as our social media platforms exploded and continue to grow. All of this is on top of the phone calls you made to legislative offices, the letters you wrote to your local papers, and the events you attended in your community and even at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg.
The people we serve, their families, and their providers of care were seen and heard.
Lawmakers are more informed than ever. They know who we are, and they are coming to understand our issues and appreciate how important they are to our communities. That education process will continue because our advocacy doesn’t end when the budget bill is signed. It’s a sustained effort that we undertake each and every day on behalf of those who rely on us — individuals with disabilities and mental health needs and their families.
You can view the specifics related to our budget priorities here. And make no mistake about it. This small success is a sign of bigger things to come.
Thank you for all you did, for all you continue to do, and for your continued support and engagement. Your support made the difference.
RCPA has signed onto a letter to Congressional leaders of the Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Committee on Finance, along with 244 other signatories, outlining the need for parity in addiction and mental health care under Medicare.
As the President’s 2023 Budget and Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan report has highlighted, Medicare is not subject to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity Act). As a result, Medicare beneficiaries do not have coverage of or access to the full range of mental health and substance use disorder benefits they need, and often lose access to treatment they were receiving prior to becoming eligible for Medicare. Although Congress has eliminated disparate financial requirements for Medicare beneficiaries, Medicare still imposes both quantitative (e.g. 190-day lifetime limitation on psychiatric hospital care) and non-quantitative treatment limitations that would violate the Parity Act. Applying the Parity Act to Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D is the critical next step to make mental health and substance use disorder services available and accessible to the millions of Medicare beneficiaries in need of treatment.
Read the full letter here.
Examining Policy and Practice Trends in the LGBTQ+ Community
June 30, 2022 | 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Pride Month is more than just an observance. It’s a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come in meeting the health care needs of the LGBTQ+ community and how much further we need to go. Join this cross-Interest Group (Crisis Response, Substance Use, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Children, Young Adults and Families, and LGBTQ+) collaborative effort to explore mental health and substance use conditions and wellbeing in the LGBTQ+ community, and the latest clinical practices and policies, including crisis response and suicide prevention.
Gun Violence and Mental Illness
June 6, 2022
Our organizations write to express our deep concerns about false and harmful attempts to link mental illness and gun violence. The horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two adults on May 24 is just one in a long series of mass shootings throughout our country. These shootings have one thing in common – easy access to weapons that can kill with terrifying efficiency on a massive scale. Attempts to connect mental illness to mass shootings are a distraction that inflicts enormous damage by taking attention from solutions that could actually prevent such events. This perpetuates a false narrative that encourages stigmatization of and discrimination against the millions of Americans living with mental health conditions who are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it (i). In fact, persons with mental illness account for a very small portion of gun violence (ii).
While mental health conditions are common in countries across the globe (iii), the United States is the only country where mass shootings have become disturbingly commonplace. In fact, firearms are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States (iv). Not coincidentally, the U.S. is also alone in making firearms widely available with few restrictions.
Gun violence is a public health crisis, and the trauma and fear caused by mass shootings significantly worsen Americans’ mental health. A large majority of adults in the United States experience stress associated with mass shootings, and a third of U.S. adults say that fear of mass shootings stops them from going to certain places and events (v). Moreover, research has shown that victims and members of affected communities experience increases in posttraumatic stress symptoms, depression, and other signs of psychological concerns. Other studies have found that, after previous mass shootings, youth felt less safe and more fearful (vi). These findings, many of which are unsurprising, make it all the more important to take urgent action to prevent these shootings, particularly in light of our nation’s ongoing youth mental health crisis.
Our organizations welcome continued bipartisan efforts to improve our country’s mental health and substance use systems. These should be pursued because they will enhance our collective well-being, improve and save countless lives, and lead to a more vibrant and resilient country.
However, what these reforms alone will not do is address the epidemic of mass shootings. To prevent more carnage, policymakers must act now to address the national crisis of gun violence and work on a bipartisan basis to pass meaningful solutions that promote gun safety in all of our communities.
A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)
Alliance for Quality Education
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work
American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists (previously known as CPNP)
American Council for School Social Work
American Counseling Association
American Federation of Teachers
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Group Psychotherapy Association
American Nurses Association
American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American School Counselor Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness
Autism Society of America
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Clinical Social Work Association
Council of Administrators of Special Education
Crisis Residential Association
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
EDGE Consulting Partners
Global Alliance on Behavioral Health and Social Justice
International OCD Foundation
Mental Health America
NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association for Rural Mental Health
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of Social Workers
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Council for Mental Wellbeing
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
National Eating Disorders Association
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Health Law Program
National League for Nursing
National Register of Health Service Psychologists
Partnership to End Addiction
Psychotherapy Action Network
School Social Work Association of America
The Advocacy Institute
The Jed Foundation
The Kennedy Forum
Well Being Trust