Mental Health America Calls
House Funding Bill a Severe Blow to
Mental Health Services and Supports
Measure Makes 22 Percent Cut, Below 2000 Level;
Prevents Health Law from Being Carried Out
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or email@example.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (October 4, 2011)—Mental Health America today criticized a proposed spending bill for health and social services programs for the 2012 fiscal year, saying it would deliver a severe and crippling blow to mental health services and supports that would take years to recover.
The bill, which funds the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, cuts mental health funding by 22 percent and defunds the health care reform law until the Supreme Court has ruled on it. It was introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.
The brunt of the cuts to public health included in the bill would be borne by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which would see a reduction of 8.4 percent. That would place funding at the same level as nearly 12 years ago.
“It is shocking and troubling that the House would single out mental health for such deep cuts at a time when states have cut back funding for mental health care by $3.4 billion over the last three years,” said David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America.
“Every day we read about the impact that economic problems are causing to the mental health of Americans and how funding for essential and basic services is dwindling,” Dr. Shern said. “It is never a good idea to cut funding for mental health and substance use services. And this is an especially bad time that will only exacerbate what is a clearly a public health crisis.”
Dr. Shern also criticized the bill for eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was created under the health reform law.
“The Fund is critical to investing in proven prevention activities that we know will work to reduce health care costs and keep Americans healthier, including steps that promote integration of behavioral and overall health care and,” he said.
Dr. Shern said a Senate spending bill crafted by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) takes a much more balanced approach by rejecting deep cuts to public health agencies and supporting implementation of the health reform law.
Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net) is the nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.