Disability News – Gov Christie to aid Mental Health Treatment

NJ Governor Christy’s 2016 State Budget Message “doubling down on our state’s fight against drug addiction”

This is a photo of NJ Govenor Christy at the 2016 State Budget Address

Photo: jerseytribune.com

Source: nj.com, 
See full message at http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/01/full_text_of_chris_christies_2016_state_of_the_sta.html 

The victims of addiction deserve treatment, whether they're in the community or incarcerated. If we can break the cycle of addiction anywhere, we should break it.

So I've directed Commissioner Lanigan of the Department of Corrections and Commissioner Connelly of the Department of Human Services to implement the first licensed substance abuse treatment program at the Mid-State Correctional Facility. Next year it will re-open for its new mission. We are doing this because every life is a precious gift from God. Again, we must give all our citizens the chance to reclaim their lives.

Completion of a licensed treatment program will also allow inmates to be eligible for help upon release, providing an important safety net for offenders transitioning back into the community. The program is yet another way to reduce recidivism and helps all of our people to become productive members of society again.

Enhanced access to care is time and time again one of the most critical issues raised as I've traveled around the state speaking with providers, victims and their families. This is true in fighting drug addiction, and it's true in helping all those affected by mental illness.

Today, I'm very proud to announce a historic financial commitment of more than$100 million to increase access to care for mental health and substance use.

We're going to provide more competitive reimbursement rates for services and providers.

As demand for services continues to grow, we also need to widen access. Increased reimbursement rates will help improve critical services and provide more treatment capacity. The investment we're making will change lives and get more people into treatment earlier, instead of the emergency room or prison later. It's the fiscally responsible thing to do — and it's the morally right thing to do.

New Jersey is counting on all of us to make good things happen and to stop the bad ones in their tracks. So let's talk now about the other priorities we need to focus on for the year ahead. Let's roll up our sleeves again and put the public interest ahead of special interests and the status quo.

There are three other big challenges that I want us to work together on this year, and that will allow us to continue delivering dramatic results for New Jersey.

First, we need to continue our work to help the most vulnerable members of our society.

I believe we have what it takes to deliver a legacy of greatness for our state. And the true measure of greatness is found in the strength of our compassion.

Today, I'm asking you to join me in doubling down on our state's fight against drug addiction.

There are few things that I've worked on harder as Governor or that I believe in as strongly as this. Drug addiction, just like cancer, is an illness. It can strike anyone, from any station in life. We're talking about people who could be my son or daughter — people who could be your kids, your husbands and wives. There but for the grace of God go each and every one of us.

Addiction is an illness and is something we can beat.

If we give people the tools and support they need to overcome this disease — and if we choose to free people from the stigma of addiction, and recognize this as the public health challenge it truly is — we can help people to reclaim their lives. We can find the true measure of our compassion.

Over the last few years we've made a lot of progress. We've led the nation in developing programs that help people to get clean and get back to work, and since 2012 we've enacted more than a dozen laws to address the drug epidemic. In 2013 we brought in the drug court program to provide mandatory treatment to first-time, non-violent, non-dealing drug offenders. We integrated employment services with treatment, to help offenders get training and find jobs.

In 2014, we launched a statewide program to help reduce the number of heroin-related deaths by training and equipping first responders to administer the antidote Narcan to overdose victims. Narcan has now been administered more than 7,500 times through this program — and we've achieved the first decline inoverdose deaths in our state in four years.

And last July, we instituted a single point of entry for people to gain access to treatment, and more than 30,000 calls have already been made by people looking to connect with drug treatment programs. Not dozens of calls to try to find help; just one call, to one place. Now that's the way government should work for those in need.

Now we have a chance to go further, and allow more of our citizens to get the help they need.

Today I'm announcing an expansion of one of our most promising anti-addiction efforts, the Recovery Coach Program.

This month, the Department of Human Services is launching a treatment intervention pilot program in hard-hit counties for people recovering from drug overdoses. The specialists leading these interventions are often in recovery themselves, and they're deployed to emergency rooms so they can provide guidance, support and referrals for treatment. With the benefit of their own experiences on the path to recovery, these recovery coaches can step in at the moment when victims of drug use are often at their most vulnerable and when support is most needed

We know intervention can change lives. And today, in this room we have an extraordinary example — John Brogan.

John is 38 and a father of three. For many years, John was sadly a victim of drugs. He overdosed on heroin over and over and was reversed four times with Narcan. He came close to death. And it wasn't until he found support through a 12-step program that he was able to break the curse of addiction.

John has been clean for five years now, and he's dedicated his life to helping other victims escape from drugs. Today, John is a recovery coach, and he's going to work with the State's Recovery Coach Program as it moves forward. When an overdose victim wakes up and reaches out for support, John is there for them.

We're going to help John and all our other coaches to continue delivering life-changing interventions, by providing $1.7 million to expand the Recovery Coach Program to an additional six counties in New Jersey.

John, please stand up — thank you for your courage. Thank you for helping us to reclaim lives.

To reclaim more lives, four years ago I also stood in this chamber and called for us to fundamentally change the way we treat nonviolent criminals who are in the thralls of the disease of addiction.

Through the reforms we delivered, like mandatory drug court, we have a smaller prison population today.

Today, this smaller population gives me the ability and opportunity to announce something extraordinarily exciting and unique across our country. We are closing a traditional state prison. Yes, our population is down enough that we have closed Mid-State Prison. Today, it stands empty as testimony to this Administration's work in reducing crime and recidivism. So what do we do with Mid-State? I propose today that we re-open Mid-State as a fully dedicated, certified drug abuse treatment facility for New Jersey prison inmates. 

The victims of addiction deserve treatment, whether they're in the community or incarcerated. If we can break the cycle of addiction anywhere, we should break it.

So I've directed Commissioner Lanigan of the Department of Corrections and Commissioner Connelly of the Department of Human Services to implement the first licensed substance abuse treatment program at the Mid-State Correctional Facility. Next year it will re-open for its new mission. We are doing this because every life is a precious gift from God. Again, we must give all our citizens the chance to reclaim their lives.

Completion of a licensed treatment program will also allow inmates to be eligible for help upon release, providing an important safety net for offenders transitioning back into the community. The program is yet another way to reduce recidivism and helps all of our people to become productive members of society again.

Enhanced access to care is time and time again one of the most critical issues raised as I've traveled around the state speaking with providers, victims and their families. This is true in fighting drug addiction, and it's true in helping all those affected by mental illness.

Today, I'm very proud to announce a historic financial commitment of more than$100 million to increase access to care for mental health and substance use.

We're going to provide more competitive reimbursement rates for services and providers.

As demand for services continues to grow, we also need to widen access. Increased reimbursement rates will help improve critical services and provide more treatment capacity. The investment we're making will change lives and get more people into treatment earlier, instead of the emergency room or prison later. It's the fiscally responsible thing to do — and it's the morally right thing to do.

For someone going through a mental health crisis, they're going to get better care in a treatment facility, not in a prison. We've already trained 2,500 first responders in nine counties on how to recognize and deal with difficult situations, so they can then decide whether it makes more sense to direct someone for treatment. Now we'll pay to train more. By expanding our training program we can help more people to get help faster. Another way to prove we believe every life is precious.

And to really make progress, we also need to provide access to better coordinated care.

Nearly two years ago I commissioned Rutgers University to analyze the characteristics of our most expensive Medicaid patients. What they found was totally clear. Within the top 1 percent of the most-expensive Medicaid patients, more than 86 percent have a mental illness, substance abuse issue, or both. If we can help people get access to coordinated care for their physical conditions, mental health and addiction issues, we can deliver more effective treatment and lower the long-term cost to the state.

To do this we're going to increase funding for three regional Accountable Care Organizations which are working to identify high-cost patients and coordinate their treatment for physical and behavioral health. Through a modest increase in funding, we can reduce unnecessary stays in hospital and avoid crowding up the ER.

So these are some of the important steps that we need to continue caring for some of New Jersey's most vulnerable people. This is a top priority for me this year, as well as for the remainder of my administration. Let's work together to save lives.