Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ensuring that Everyone who Needs Help Can Get Help

The summer passed so quickly and we jumped into fall at full speed as the transition to fee-for-service (FFS) had been and continues to be on everyone’s mind.

Ever since I began receiving feedback from members that some of the FFS rates won’t work, I’ve been asking myself every night, “What will it really take to ensure not only that no one loses services as we go through the system transformation, but also that we can expand services as there is so much unmet need?”

Of course, we are continuing to persevere in our advocacy and we are employing a variety of strategies, including recent videos, We Have a Potential Problem and The Number of People in Need Continues to Increase , on YouTube. The videos, as well as our press releases and letters to editors, have resulted in substantial media coverage. Highlights include a page 1 article in the Star-Ledger, several articles in NJ Spotlight, a feature in Mental Health Weekly and interviews on NJTV News. We have had some impact on FFS rates and the transition to FFS. We are also making significant strides toward eliminating stigma and discrimination.

The momentum keeps building. As others have been worrying along with me around the clock, which is evident by the nonstop communications, the potential loss of services for tens of thousands of individuals is of grave concern. This concern has prompted much positive action by our staff and members, including advocacy to legislators in writing and in person, a petition (click here to sign on before October 19th) and legislative breakfasts being held this month in Bergen and Essex Counties.

I fully support all of these efforts. They augment the advocacy that our staff and I do on behalf of all our members. I think there will be a solution and we will be heard if every individual at every member organization, as well as all clients and their family members, become actively engaged in advocacy. I believe that if we all join voices on this issue, leaders will know that services are needed and valuable.

We are glad the State Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee unanimously passed a bill for independent oversight of the FFS system operation and rates, and we anticipate an Assembly hearing on this legislation on November 14, 2016. We strongly encourage our members to make a strong showing at this hearing with clients and their family members. Stay tuned for details.

Debra L. Wentz, Ph.D.
President and CEO
New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA)

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