Why NM Legislators Should Vote for SB 182
Summary: Sponsored by Senator Mary Kay Papen and Reps. Micaela Lara Cadena and Dayan Hochman-Vigil, SB 182 creates a non-reverting fund to enable the Division of Behavioral Health Services within the Department of Health Services to develop a comprehensive community-based mental health system that will provide support services for adults diagnosed with serious mental illness and youth diagnosed with serious emotional disturbance. Funds will be used to provide targeted case management, transitional and long-term housing, and psychosocial rehabilitation and support services for the target population. The bill defines the community-based mental health system to include physical health services including dental care, mental health and substance abuse services, and rehabilitation, employment, housing, and educational services. The legislation declares an emergency, stating “It is necessary for the public peace, health, and safety that this act take effect immediately.”
History: Since 1997, in an effort to provide mental health services to low-income residents, preceding administrations have contracted with a variety of national organizations and later with regional resources. In 2013, Governor Martinez’s administration accused the organizations who were then providing local mental health services of fraud. Although the accusations were later proofed false or greatly exaggerated, community mental health services in many communities disappeared due to the state’s refusal to pay contracted fees while investigations were undertaken.
Why This Bill is Good for New Mexico
- Our state’s has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation, and a September 2019 report by the U.S. Health & Human Services Department found that most behavioral health organizations in New Mexico are unable to provide urgent appointments within 24 hours, and wait times for routine appointments ranged from 3 weeks to 3 months.
- This bill expands on the definition of mental health services to include additional support such as rehabilitation, employment and housing services in an effort to reduce or prevent the likelihood of relapses following in-patient care or incarceration.
- Housing assistance and education and employment services provide the life skills needed to achieve and maintain the capacity to live independently, helping people to avoid relapse.
- The bill includes the concept of case management to insure coordination across separate disciplines and organizations.
- While the costs of integrated care initially appear greater, this approach saves the state money in the long run by avoiding longer term inpatient care and recidivism.
- Contracts awarded will give preference to proposals for communities that have few or no behavioral health providers or support services, which are primarily rural areas of the state.
- The bill allows for innovative, flexible uses of local resources other than traditional providers of behavioral health services, while incorporating performance standards, metrics, and tracking of results.