NY Child Mental Health Advocates Applaud Gov Hochul on Commitment to Address Child Mental Health Crisis in SOTS Address


January 5, 2022

Governor Commits to Aligning Child Health Plus Benefits with Medicaid Benefits & Integrating Behavioral Health Professionals into Pediatric Primary Care

Concerns Remain Surrounding Behavioral Health Workforce Shortage Caused By Inadequate Medicaid Reimbursement Rates that Have Failed to Keep Pace with Inflation

NEW YORK, NY — In response to Governor Kathy Hochul’s first State of the State address, Citizens’ Committee for Children Executive Director Jennifer March issued the following statement on behalf of the Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids:

The Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids Campaign applauds the Governor for her commitment to addressing the urgent child mental health crisis facing New York families. The depth of this crisis is impossible to overstate.

The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a public health advisory on youth mental health as rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation in children continue to climb. Even prior to the pandemic, suicide was the second leading cause of death among children ages 15-19, and roughly half of children with a behavioral health condition did not receive treatment or counseling. Now, 140,000 children in the US have lost a parent or caregiver to the pandemic; almost 7,000 of them in New York. This uptick in child behavioral health challenges has been met with longer wait times for care and a growing workforce shortage. The consequences can be fatal.

In light of this growing crisis, we commend the Governor for committing to improve access to children’s behavioral health services by aligning Child Health Plus benefits with Medicaid benefits and reducing CHIP premiums for low-income families, making a significant investment in the mental health and human services workforce, and prioritizing telehealth reimbursement parity. We also applaud the Governor for making a commitment to expand the Healthy Steps Program, integrate behavioral health professionals into pediatric primary care and increase the availability of Dyadic therapy supporting healthy child and parent interaction. We are also eager to better understand how the State plans to expand suicide prevention through the expansion of home and community-based crisis intervention and the creation of a wellness community workforce.

We look forward to greater detail on all of these proposals in the forthcoming Executive Budget and we stand ready to work with the Governor and the Legislature to address the crisis in behavioral health care access experienced by children, adolescents and their families every day. While we are pleased with what we have heard today, it is critical that the Governor goes further in the upcoming Executive Budget to address the severe clinical service capacity and workforce shortages driven by inadequate Medicaid and commercial insurance rates.

Comprehensive rate reform will strengthen workforce recruitment and retention efforts and expand service capacity to meet skyrocketing demand. We look forward to working with the Governor to ensure New York’s children, adolescents and their families access timely the high quality behavioral health care that they need.

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The Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids is a statewide coalition of behavioral health providers, advocates, and New York families, joining together to create the public and political will necessary to ensure all children and adolescents in New York receive the high-quality behavioral health services they need

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