Call to action after lawmakers eliminate ‘critical’ funding for addiction treatment

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Originally published March 16, 2015

MANCHESTER, NH  – On the same day Manchester Police Department issued a statement on the dramatic increase in heroin overdose calls and related deaths so far in 2015, a House committee voted to eliminate from Gov. Maggie Hassan’s proposed budget what many in the trenches of drug treatment say is “critical funding.”

Without it, those battling addiction will be left without services, options or hope.

Tym Rourke, Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Substance Use Disorders says such cuts would leave thousands without basic care for a “treatable disease.”

“What House Finance Division III is currently proposing is short-sighted at least, dangerous at worst. It is shocking that in this day and age, we would leave a group of people struggling with an entirely treatable disease unable to access basic care. In the heat of our state’s heroin epidemic – with three fatal overdoses in Manchester this past weekend alone and over 300 statewide in 2014 – the Committee has chosen to continue an anemic funding scheme, limiting treatment access in a way that is attributing to a staggering number of lives cut short due to untreated addiction,” says Rourke.


 

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Compounding the human toll from drug addiction is the economic strain fallout from addiction is placing on the state, says Rourke, with nearly 3 percent of New Hampshire’s Gross State Product lost to addiction in 2013.

According to the most recent statistics on lost state revenues, provided by New Futures:

  • $1.15 Billion dollars in lost worker productivity and absenteeism at local businesses.
  • $284 Million dollars in costs to police protection, the judicial system, and state and county correctional systems resulting from alcohol and drug misuse.
  • $266 Million dollars in total costs to the New Hampshire healthcare system.

The House Finance Division III cuts will only make the problem worse, says Rourke.

“The Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery put forth a comprehensive plan to begin to turn the tide of this costly epidemic. The plan is evidence-based and has bi-partisan support. Instead of investing in solutions, however, the Committee is proposing to grow the size of government and further strain healthcare providers, law enforcement, businesses and tax payers, who will be left with the mess wrought upon individuals, families and communities. I hope that those who are impacted by this issue in their own lives and business make their concerns known, and that legislators reconsider this current path,” says Rourke.

He also noted that currently the committee is intent on cutting the governor’s committee proposed increase to the state Alcohol Fund, which is supposed to set aside 5 percent of the state’s profit on alcohol sales annually toward addiction services.

The committee is proposing flat funding of about $3.6 million annually for the biennium (based on profits, the figure should be $16.8 million). 

“They are not yet done their work, so we are watching and hoping they make no further cuts, but we won’t know until their work concludes later this week,” Rourke said.

As news of the House Finance Division III Committee vote circulated, New Futures, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group issued a call to action, urging those concerned about the need for increased services and funding to contact members of the committee to voice their “outrage” at the lack of support for expanded services.

A final vote is scheduled for the early part of next week, said Rourke.

Below is a call to action issued Monday night by New Futures:

New Futures logo

CALL HOUSE FINANCE AND ASK THEM TO RESTORE SUD FUNDS

BACKGROUND

 

Division III of the House Finance Committee voted to eliminate reauthorization of the NH Health Protection from the state budget, eliminate funds to provide a Substance Use Benefit to the standard Medicaid population, and eliminate the proposed increase of funds for the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

Their actions will go to the full House Finance Committee for a vote early next week. It is CRITICAL that you call members of the House Finance Committee and voice your outrage over eliminating funding for SUD services in the face of the substance misuse epidemic we are facing in our state!

The NH Health Protection Program currently covers 37,000 people and is expected to cover over 50,000 people by the end of 2015. If the program is not reauthorized, the impact will be significant.

  • Up to 50,000 people will lose health coverage, including 7,000 who will likely access the SUD benefit.
  • The incentive to build much needed SUD treatment capacity will be lost.
  • Uncompensated care will increase, impacting substance use disorder providers and other health care providers.
  • Failure to provide substance use disorder benefits will impact recidivism among parolees and will increase state corrections costs.
  • Lives will be lost to addiction and the costs to NH’s economy from substance misuse will increase.

The State Fiscal Year 16/17 budget proposed provides Substance Use Disorder (SUD) benefits to the standard Medicaid population in SFY 17.

 

  • Failure to fund this extension of SUD services will preclude access to treatment for an estimated 14% of the standard Medicaid Population, including eligible youth, pregnant women, and people with co-occurring mental illness and SUDs.
  • Health outcomes for the standard Medicaid population will deteriorate.

The SFY 16/17 budget proposed increasing funding to the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

  • Increased funding is needed to provide cost effective, evidence based prevention services to NH’s youth and young adults.
  • Increased funding is needed to build a system of recovery supports throughout NH.
  • Increased funding is needed to fill treatment gaps not covered by insurance.

ACTION 

Call members of the House Finance Committee and ask them to restore funds to reauthorize the Health Protection Program, provide the SUD benefit to the standard Medicaid population, and increase funding to the Governor’s Commission. Below is the contact information of Finance Div III members:

Rep. Mary Allen –   Phone: (603)382-5665

Rep. Dan McGuire – Phone: (603)782-4918

EmailDan.McGuire@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Mary Jane Wallner – Phone: (603)225-5249

EmailMaryjane.Wallner@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Frank Byron –   Phone: (603)889-7424

Emailfrank.byron@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Sharon Nordgren –   Phone: (603)643-5068

EmailSharon.Nordgren@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Neal Kurk – Phone: (603)529-7253

Emailrep03281@aol.com

Rep. Cindy Rosenwald – Phone: (603)595-9896

EmailCindy.Rosenwald@leg.state.nh.us

 Click here for a full roster of House Finance members.


WHEN 

Division III is expected to conclude its work this week and the full Finance Committee is expected to vote on the budget early next week. Please call members of the Finance Committee before 5:00 PM on Wednesday, March 18th.

 

Let’s make sure the funding STAYS in the budget!
_________________________________________________________________________________________

 

CLICK HERE FOR TALKING POINTS

Contact 

Sarah Sadowski

Community Engagement Director

New Futures

ssadowski@new-futures.org 

603-225-9540 Ext. 104


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About Carol Robidoux 5555 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.