Community-Based Mental Health & Substance Use Treatment Employees Call Upon Governor-Elect Hogan & State Leaders to Protect and Enhance Mental Health Funding

Date: Dec 22, 2014

Group cities new study that demonstrate the economic impact of community services and taxpayers' savings over incarceration, institutionalization and hospitalization

Providers have received nearly no cost of inflation increases over the past 20 years despite legislation requiring such increases.

Catonsville, MD - Mental health providers, advocates, employees and clients recently called upon the incoming governor, Larry Hogan, to protect jobs and the ability for community-based, mental health providers to continue delivering much-needed services to more than 160,000 people across Maryland.

"Every day at work, we are tasked with spinning gold from straw and expected to deliver and we do. Even though the wages are challenging and have been stagnant for years, the rewards of our jobs are huge helping people learn to manage their mental wellness and overcome addictions," said Tyler McCurdy of Ellicott City and residential services coordinator in the Residential Crisis Program at Mosaic Community Services, located in Catonsville, Md. "While we have many dedicated employees, we also have tremendous turnover - the desk next to mine has been occupied by five different employees in less than two years. Every little bit of wage increase helps stabilize the workforce and helps us deliver even higher quality services to members of our communities."

The Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland (CBH), also recently released a new study of the economic and fiscal impact of these providers. The study was authored by Daraius Irani, Ph.D. and chief economist and Jessica Grimm, senior research associate from Regional Economic Studies Institute of Towson University (RESI).

"According to our study, CBH members support approximately 21,530 annual jobs, generate more than $1.6 billion in output, approximately $682.2 million in wages, and more than $73.1 million in total tax revenues in a given year," said Dr. Irani.
Community-based mental health and addiction programs deliver critical, cost-effective services at an average per capita cost of $5,000 versus $200,000 per year in a state hospital according to state health department reports. These companies are also small businesses that are found in all 24 of Maryland's jurisdictions, making them major employers across the state, contributing to both state and local tax revenues.

"Providing a comprehensive continuum of services in the community where people work, live and play has proven to be a successful recovery system that helps many thousands of people," said Jeff Richardson, Mosaic's executive director. "Community-based treatment is extremely effective, at an average cost per day that is substantially lower than treatment through emergency rooms, hospitalization or incarceration."

"Mental and behavioral health and substance use treatment professionals are providing critically needed services to Marylanders from every walk of life - mental illness and addiction affect every segment of the population. More than 160,000 Maryland adults and children use the public mental health systems," said Herb Cromwell, CBH executive director. "While I know that budget times have been tough lately, year after year, the mental health community is grossly underfunded. In fact, in 2011, a state alcohol tax increase was supposed to provide 15 percent of its proceeds to mental health and 15 percent to developmental disability services. More than $15 million was directed to developmental disabilities, but nothing was directed to mental health or substance use services. Behavioral health funds went to school construction instead."

Providers also are incredibly efficient - since the recession in 2008, public mental health enrollment has grown 61.5 percent (97,948 people served in 2008 to 158,206 in 2014), but expenditures during that period have grown only 32.5 percent from $519.4 million to $688.4 million.

"Today we call upon Governor-Elect Hogan to protect the four percent inflationary adjustment in Community Mental Health reimbursement rates, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015 - only the 6th such rate in 19 years - since 1995 when the price of gas averaged $1.11 per gallon. In 19 years, our reimbursement rates from the State of Maryland have only increased .71 percent - far less than even 1 percent per year," said CBH President Catherine Meyers, executive director of Center For Children in Southern Maryland.

"Governor-elect Hogan campaigned on the promise to support Maryland businesses and make government more efficient. Protecting funding for community-based mental health providers achieves both of these goals. In addition, it's the law - legislation passed in 2010 (SB633/HB1034) requires annual inflationary adjustments. We urge Mr. Hogan to protect mental health funding," said Meyers.



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