Broward County NAG Update — April 30, 2020
The Florida legislative session is over, but there’s a lot besides the corona virus still up in the air, as COVID-19 devastates state tourism and other revenues. The Legislature passed a $93.2 billion budget that is $2.2 billion more than current spending. It provides over $25 million to match federal money for the COVID-19 response. In addition, during the budget conference, spending and tax cuts were reduced to leave an additional $300 million in reserves to attack the virus. The Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget is reviewing all proposed spending, which includes an appropriation to NAMI Broward to expand our programs (many thanks to Senator Gary Farmer and Rep. Michael Gottlieb and their aides)! Governor DeSantis will have 15 days to exercise his right to line-item vetoes once the budget reaches him. The results will be clear before July 1st when the new fiscal year begins.
Mental Health Care:
Some good news! We advocated for the bill called “Substance Abuse and Mental Health” (SB7012), and it passed! Many thanks to the Senate Children, Families, Elders Committee, Senator Lauren Book, Chair; and to Representative Cyndi Stevenson, whose bill to promote First-Episode Psychosis Programs throughout the state, was merged into SB 7012, which now:
- Expands Suicide Prevention services
- Authorizes jails to share medical information pertaining to specified defendants to DCF
- Requires maintenance of psych. medications to specified defendants
- Creates coordinated specialty care programs, which are evidence-based programs for individuals experiencing early indications of serious mental illness, especially symptoms of a first-psychotic episode, and includes intensive case management, individual or group therapy, supported employment, family education and supports, medication, etc.
A Children’s Mental Health bill (CS/HB945/SB1440) passed, which requires DCF and AHCA to identify children and teens who use crisis stabilization services and to meet their behavioral health needs. The bill requires managing entities and others to develop plans promoting coordinated system of care for certain services; requires testing of provider network databases maintained by Medicaid-managed care plans; and requires DCF and AHCA to assess quality of care provided in crisis stabilization units.
A bill (HB1339) passed that expands the definition of affordable housing financed through the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program to include housing for “persons who have mental health issues” and authorizes local governments to approve the development of affordable housing on any parcel zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use.
A bill combatting Homelessness also passed (HB163/SB68), which requires those considered for Rapid Re-Housing be assessed and prioritized by the Continuum of Care’s coordinated entry program. The bill also removes the requirement for the individual or family to have a background check and/or complete rehab. for substance abuse in order to access Housing First services.
The Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust SAIL (State Apartment Incentive Loan) program is funded, but not the SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Partnership) program. We continue to advocate for restoration of all Sadowski funds, so that money is returned to each county to meet affordable-housing needs for many vulnerable populations.
Your Broward NAGs and the Florida Mental Health Advocacy Coalition continue to fight for supportive housing, insurance parity, more psychiatric beds, easier and earlier access to quality mental health care, and keeping people with mental illness out of the jails. Be assured that we are here for you and will never give up.