Dear Advocates,

We invite you to follow along as we navigate this year's new and exciting legislative session. If you are interested in learning more about our policy agenda, please be sure to review our Public Policy Statements HERE.

Mental Health America of Indiana advocates for effective legislation that will improve the behavioral health sector in Indiana. Below are KEY behavioral health bills heard in committee this week.

Spotlight Bill -
House Bill 1001:

House Budget Bill to cut Mental Health and Addiction appropriation by over $26M for the biennium.

HB 1001, the State Budget Bill, would inexplicably make cuts to the mental health and addiction budget. As currently constructed, $26M would be cut from the biennium budget as compared to the previous budget passed by the Indiana General Assembly.

At a time when behavioral health resources are needed now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoosiers require robust comprehensive behavioral health services. Depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug overdose and suicide are all on the rise due to COVID-19.
The proposed budget would reduce several line items, including funding for Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and Substance Use Disorders (SUD). Additionally, the proposed budget would reduce the Recovery Works program, which is designed to move individuals in the criminal justice system into mental health and addiction treatment, when appropriate. Such a reduction in this highly successful program will likely lead to increased incarceration and recidivism rates.

Now is not the time to reduce state mental health and addiction funding in Indiana. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for mental health services and there has also been an increase in alcohol and drug use through the health emergency. Clearly the Budget as constructed would have a dramatic negative impact on the ability of mental health and addiction providers in meeting the increasing demand for services. State funding for mental health and addiction is critically important to ensure that the delivery of services is provided to those most in need. When such services are not available or accessible, there is a corresponding reduction in overall health and well-being, resulting in increased costs under Medicaid due to increased utilization, as well as unnecessary hospitalizations and increased homeliness--all factors in leading to increased societal costs.

What possibly could be the rationale for these cuts? Due to the on-going fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, state agencies initially calculated their base budget with a 15% reduction. But after review of the January state revenue report, the Administration stated that it is likely that the revenue forecast will reflect additional General Fund dollars available compared to the revenue forecast that was used to prepare the Governor’s recommended budget. Further, the Administration stated that they supported full restoration of mental health and addiction funding, assuming the revenue forecast does in fact grow as expected.

Mental Health America of Indiana strongly supports the Administration’s position to restore Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) appropriations to previous budget levels, assuming that the revenue forecast does in fact grow as expected. Unfortunately, HB 1001 as drafted, does not fully restore the $26M in funding cuts for the biennium for mental health and addictions.

Please ask your Representative to FULLY RESTORE the $26M funding cuts for mental health and addiction services, including Recovery Works, in HB 1001, the Budget Bill.


To read more about the proposed state budget bill, please read below: 

House Bill 1001: STATE BUDGET - Appropriates money for capital expenditures, the operation of the state, K-12 and higher education, the delivery of Medicaid and other services, and various other distributions and purposes. Replaces the governor with the budget director or the budget director's designee on the state board of finance. Renames the personal services/fringe benefits contingency fund as the budget agency contingency fund (fund).
Senate Bills:
Senate Bill 205: TEACHER TRAINING - Requires applicants for an initial teacher's license to provide evidence that the applicant has successfully completed education and training in trauma informed instruction and the recognition of signs that a student may be reacting to trauma. Defines "social emotional learning" as developmentally appropriate, culturally competent, and evidence based universal practices focused on: (1) self-awareness; (2) self-management; (3) social awareness; (4) relationship skills; and (5) responsible decision making. Requires a teacher preparation program to include curriculum that instructs teachers about social emotional learning practices that are helpful in supporting students who have experienced trauma. 

Senate Bill 51: MEDICAID REIMBURSEMENT FOR SCHOOLS - Allows the office of the secretary of family and social services to apply for a Medicaid state plan amendment to allow school corporations to seek Medicaid reimbursement for medically necessary, school based Medicaid covered services that are provided under federal or state mandates. Specifies possible services for Medicaid reimbursement. Adds physical therapy to the list of services a school psychologist may refer a student. Allows a school psychologist to make referrals to physical therapists for mandated school services.
Senate Committee recommends passage, as amended Yeas: 11; Nays: 0

Senate Bill 292:
PUBLIC HEALTH MATTERS - Establishes the scholarship for minority students pursuing health care careers (scholarship) and the minority students pursuing health care careers fund. Provides that the commission for higher education (commission) administers the scholarship program and the fund.
Senate Committee recommends passage, as amended Yeas: 12; Nays: 0 

House Bills:
House Bill 1467:
COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER MATTERS  - Requires the office of the secretary of family and social services (office) to apply for a Medicaid state plan amendment or Medicaid waiver for the following: (1) Reimbursement of Medicaid rehabilitation option services for a Medicaid eligible recipient who is undertaking an initial assessment, intake, or counseling in a community mental health center. (2) Reimbursement for Medicaid rehabilitation option services concurrently with reimbursement under the residential addiction treatment program. (3) The inclusion of video conferencing and audio services as telehealth for community mental health centers. Amends the definition of "telehealth services" for the Medicaid program. Requires at least two members of the division of mental health and addiction planning and advisory council to be community mental health center chief executive officers or designees.
House Committee recommends passage, as amended Yeas: 11; Nays: 0

House Bill 1340:
HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS  - Replaces statutory references to "dangerous communicable disease" with "serious communicable disease". Replaces statutory references to "carrier" with "individual with a communicable disease". Repeals certain criminal provisions concerning the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Extends the expiration of the syringe exchange program until July 1, 2030. Makes conforming amendments.
House Committee recommends passage Yeas: 11; Nays: 0

House Bill 1127: MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION FORENSIC TREATMENTS - Removes a provision that allows a: (1) delinquent child's; or (2) person's; Medicaid participation to be terminated following a two year suspension due to certain adjudications or incarceration. Adds competency restoration services to the list of treatment and wraparound recovery services made available to certain persons in the criminal justice system. Adds competency restoration services to the list of services that qualify a person for mental health and addiction forensic treatment services. Adds: (1) recovery community organizations; and (2) recovery residences; certified by the division of mental health and addiction (division) or its designee to the list of organizations eligible for certain funds and grants from the division. Requires demographic data concerning race and ethnicity to be included in certain demographic research performed by the division.

What's Going On in Capitol Hill?
Congress is considering the next steps on a COVID Relief Package. This week, a group of ten Senate Republicans released a draft bill for a roughly $600B package. The President had proposed $1.9T. In a positive development for the mental health community, both the President’s plan and the Republican alternative include $4B for mental health and addiction services, divided between SAMHSA (3.5B) and HRSA (.5B). Neither plan has additional details, and MHA has supported the overall investment while pointing out the need to increase the workforce, especially peer support specialists, and our commitment to early intervention, equity, and a better crisis system. 
The President met with Republican Senators, and they are continuing conversations as the Democratic leaders continue to prepare for using a process called budget reconciliation, which only requires a majority to pass. While this process has the advantage of a lower threshold, there are a lot of restrictions on how the process can be used that make it difficult. We will keep you updated as discussions continue.
In addition to advocating for mental health resources, MHA also participates in coalitions to raise issues of interest to non-profits and co-signed this letter seeking additional COVID relief in the Paycheck Protection Program, Unemployment Insurance, Tax Incentives for charitable giving and other issues.
More than ever, we must stay in touch with you through technology, so please be sure to sign up for our IN.session Newsletter and VoterVoice Action Alerts to stay up to date on important mental health related legislation.

If you would like to review all of the bills Mental Health America of Indiana is following, click HERE for our Action Track report!