The City Editor
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many shortcomings in the healthcare system and at the top is the inadequacy of how we deliver services to people suffering from mental illness.
The pandemic has been a major driver of the surge in demand for mental health care, but the ability to meet that demand, especially cost-effectively, has simply not been there.
Ask anyone who has tried to find counseling services for a child, or had to watch a loved one or friend struggle while waiting for a hospital psychiatric bed to open. And for those who can get treatment, the bills can add up fast. Many providers do not carry insurance, while many insurance plans have limited coverage.
It’s a broken system, which is why New Yorkers should be pleased that among the major initiatives Governor Kathy Hochul outlined in her statehood address last week is a $1 billion investment in improving mental health care.
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“We have underinvested in mental health care for so long and allowed the situation to get so dire, that it has also become a public safety crisis,” Hochul said in a news release. sure no one falls through the cracks and to finally and fully meet the mental health needs of all New Yorkers.
The governor’s proposals include requiring hospitals to reopen 850 inpatient psychiatric beds that were taken out of the system to open capacity when COVID-19 admissions were peaking. He also wants the state to add 150 new psychiatric beds.
The plan would use state funding to leverage the development and operation of 3,500 residential units that would support people across the spectrum of mental illness, from intensive services for people with the most severe challenges to transitional housing for people nearly ready to return. in community life.
The governor is calling for policy changes and investments that address the admission and discharge process for people receiving hospital treatment for mental illness. That effort would include major expansions of outpatient services.
The plan also includes expanded insurance coverage for mental health care, as well as a significant increase in school services.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says she plans to add 1,000 inpatient psychiatric care beds and create 3,500 housing units as part of a $1 billion plan to fill gaps in mental health care. The multi-year plan announced as part of Hochul State’s annual State of the Art address also aims to increase insurance coverage for mental health services, expand outpatient services, and create more accountability in hospital admissions and discharges. The plan requires state-licensed hospitals to reopen 850 inpatient psychiatric beds that went offline during the pandemic.
These are all ideas with enormous promise, and a price tag of $1 billion over a period of several years is an investment that will more than pay off. We urge all lawmakers to support them and help New York become a model of mental health care for the rest of the country to follow.
Citizen’s editorial board includes president and director of local sales and marketing Michelle Bowers, executive director Jeremy Boyer and editor-in-chief Mike Dowd.