Monday, April 11, 2016 - 00:00

Governor McCrory Proposes Budget Priorities to Support Families, Vulnerable Citizens Includes $30 million to tackle mental health and substance use issues

<p>Surrounded by families, children, first responders, advocates and care providers, Governor Pat McCrory unveiled his budget priorities to further promote a healthy North Carolina. The governor&rsquo;s budget proposal will expand services to strengthen families and support North Carolina&rsquo;s most vulnerable citizens.</p>
Apr 11, 2016

Surrounded by families, children, first responders, advocates and care providers, Governor Pat McCrory unveiled his budget priorities to further promote a healthy North Carolina. The governor’s budget proposal will expand services to strengthen families and support North Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens.
“As governor, I believe we have an obligation to support people who need assistance to reach their full potential,” said Governor McCrory. “Through my budget, we will continue to fulfill this obligation by supporting families caring for aging parents, children with disabilities and those living with mental illness and substance use disorders.”

These investments will continue to build on the work Governor McCrory began in 2013 to reform the state’s Medicaid program and establish the Crisis Solutions Initiative to address mental health and substance use issues. 
After four years of Medicaid shortfalls totaling $2 billion under the previous administration, North Carolina’s Medicaid program is now on target to finish three consecutive years with cash on hand due to responsible management and budgeting. 
Governor McCrory outlined several priorities in his budget proposal that support his principle of helping those who can’t help themselves while encouraging those who can. 
Improving the lives of people with mental illness and substance use disorders ($30 million) 

  • Funds emergency housing for adults diagnosed with a primary substance use disorder or serious mental illness who are transitioning out of emergency departments, correctional facilities or institutions. 
  • Improves connections for individuals with mental health and substance use issues by funding more proactive, regular and often face-to-face contact and support. This case management model for adults will work closely with individuals during transition periods to create personalized plans and prevent hospitalization or interactions with the justice system. For children, this type of case management will focus on those in foster care, the juvenile justice system, and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 
  • Continues the partnership between the justice system and the healthcare system by investing in more specialty courts, such as recovery and drug courts. 
  • Expands Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid training, a program with a proven record of success, to increase awareness and reduce stigma for those experiencing a mental health crisis, which promotes early identification and intervention for individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders. Our state is a national leader in this preventive training with more than 18,000 people trained in either adult or youth Mental Health First Aid. 
  • Addresses the state’s heroin and prescription drug use epidemic by increasing funding for Medication-Assisted Treatment and other preventive measures identified by the community and the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use. 
  • Proposes legislation that would authorize access to Naloxone at pharmacies in North Carolina. Naloxone is a life-saving drug for anyone who overdoses on prescription opioids or heroin. A medical standing order, issued by the state health director, would allow Naloxone to be dispensed to anyone who requests it. More than 2,500 lives have been saved in North Carolina because of Naloxone. 
  • Invests in child facility-based crisis centers that work closely with Juvenile Justice, foster care programs and schools. These crisis centers will collaborate with case managers and families and will have the capacity to serve children with behavioral health needs who also have intellectual and other developmental disabilities and children who have experienced trauma. 

Expanding Medicaid and state services for older adults, including those with Alzheimer’s 

  • Adds 320 new slots to the Community Alternatives Program for Disabled Adults through the Medicaid program. This investment allows individuals and families facing Alzheimer’s, older adults and those with disabilities who need support to stay in their homes. Adding these slots will reduce the waiting list for these critical services. ($3 million) 
  • Increases funding for family caregiver support services, including respite care for caregivers. ($1 million) 

Expanding Medicaid services for people with developmental disabilities and Autism 

  • Adds 250 Medicaid Innovations Waiver slots to provide the needed services to help individuals with developmental disabilities live successful lives in the community. ($2.5 million) 
  • Builds on the 2015 law that expanded Autism health insurance coverage by ensuring those families who rely on Medicaid for support have the ability to access the same services for autism. Under this initiative, the Department of Health and Human Services will issue clear guidance to Local Management Entities-Managed Care Organizations to ensure that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder receive consistent statewide services under Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment. The Department of Health and Human Services will also begin working with stakeholders to develop a Medicaid State Plan Amendment that outlines delivery of research-based intensive behavioral health treatments. This State Plan Amendment will be submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by Sept. 1, 2016. 

Continuing Governor McCrory’s commitment to high quality early childhood programs by increasing Pre-K slots ($2 million) 

  • Increases access to high quality education experiences for an additional 400 at-risk 4 year olds, bringing the total budget to $146 million, a 14 percent increase from 2012-13.  

Keeping our children safe by strengthening the state’s child protection system ($8.6 million) 

  • Governor McCrory has made significant investments in the child welfare system through state-funded county social service workers to reduce caseloads and a new statewide case management system to ensure workers have the tools they need to be effective. 
  • Invests in the development of a well-qualified, well-trained workforce to support services to families and children, ultimately helping keep children safe in their own homes. 
  • Uses trauma-informed evidence, a proven best practice, to enhance services to families and children. 
  • Expands programs across the state that have proven successful at better serving families and children in their own homes, thereby reducing the number of children entering foster care. 

Preparing North Carolina to respond to Zika Virus ($750,000) 

  • Provides funding for surveillance across the state, to identify and track the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary carrier of the Zika virus. North Carolina is proactively preparing a Zika response plan for the state, including having one of the first labs in the nation that can test for the virus. Based on what we know, the likelihood of having the Zika virus actively spread by mosquitoes across North Carolina is low, but we must be prepared. 

Governor McCrory will release more details of his Healthy North Carolina budget when he unveils his complete budget proposal later this month.