Governor Boosts Care for Co-Occurring Developmental Disabilities & Mental Health Conditions

(TRENTON) – Governor Phil Murphy has announced $22.5 million in proposed new investments to care for individuals with developmental disabilities, including new funding for individuals diagnosed with both developmental disabilities and mental health conditions.

“Our budget will provide critical resources to allow individuals with both developmental disabilities and mental health challenges to thrive in their communities,” Governor Murphy said during his Tuesday Budget Address.

“The Murphy Administration is committed to improved programs and services for individuals dually diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mental health concerns,” said Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson. “These individuals represent a particularly vulnerable population and require comprehensive coordinated treatment and support to help them live as independently as possible in the community. New innovations are crucial and with this initiative we’re increasing our capacity to care for these individuals and give them the services they need.”

The new funding for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health conditions would include $7 million proposed in Governor Murphy’s budget for next fiscal year. This funding would help garner $2.5 million in matching federal funds, for a total of $9.5 million.

The money would be used to:

  • Double capacity of the Division of Developmental Disabilities community-based emergency beds by adding 20 new beds across the state, which can reduce the need for hospitalizations and get people in crisis home sooner;
  • Develop a Medicaid Behavioral Health Home pilot program that would invest in building the capacity of health care providers to serve individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health issues; and
  • Conduct a statewide review of in-patient stabilization services and funding mechanisms.

The Governor’s budget plan also calls for an additional $15.5 million in state funding to continue New Jersey’s emphasis on home and community-based services.

“Taken as a whole, these improvements represent an expansive effort to ensure the best possible care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Human Services Deputy Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “The Murphy Administration is strongly committed to supporting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families and caregivers"

“Those with both developmental and intellectual disabilities often require specialized care that addresses their unique needs,” said Senator Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex), chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “This is a public health issue that deserves more attention and additional support. These funds will be put to good use to help those with dual diagnoses meet the challenges they face and help their families to provide the care they need.  They should not be neglected as we work to treat mental illness in all its forms.”

“Expanding access to high quality care for individuals with mental health conditions and developmental disabilities will immeasurably improve the quality of life for them and their families,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth), chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee. “These improvements will dedicate much-needed resources to the comprehensive programs and treatment these individuals need to meet the unique obstacles that come with these conditions. I fully support all efforts to extend a helping hand to these New Jersey residents and their loved ones.”

The budget plans were welcomed by parents and advocates.

“During my 20 year journey as a parent, advocate and healthcare provider, I have come to realize that there is no silver bullet that will fix the system. Instead, developing innovative, targeted programs like what the Murphy administration is proposing is what is needed,” said Stephanie Pratico, a Hamilton mother of two young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who was a guest of First Lady Tammy Murphy at Tuesday’s Budget Address by the governor. She is also Program Manager for the NJ Transition to Adult Comprehensive Care Program - a program for intellectually and developmentally disabled young adults - at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  “Sadly, innovation, healthcare and government are rarely used in the same sentence in a positive light.  However, if we are to improve the quality of care for this vulnerable population, whose needs are complex, the private sector must partner with government to break the tired cookie-cutter molds that have languished in healthcare for too long. Embracing a model where new ideas are encouraged, tested and refined will accelerate the creation of new methods of delivering efficient, quality care that is tailored to the developmental disability population.”

“The Arc of New Jersey is grateful to the Governor for putting needed resources into the service delivery system that enables thousands of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live integrated lives in the community,” said Thomas Baffuto, executive director of The Arc of New Jersey. “Specifically, we applaud the addition of new funding to address the needs to those with I/DD and mental health needs. This segment of the population often requires specialized services and attention, and this new funding will help provide the critical supports in response to the unique challenges facing individuals with dual diagnosis and their families.”

“The innovation of a Medicaid Behavioral Health Home pilot program for people living with developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health disorders and the continued emphasis on home and community-based services demonstrates Governor Murphy’s compassionate and innovative  investment in building New Jersey’s capacity to support and include individuals with disabilities and their families in our communities,” said Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD, Executive Director of The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and chairwoman of New Jersey’s Medical Assistance Advisory Council (MAAC).