Voices’ Blog

Health and Mental Health in the 2017 Conference Report

Posted:  -  By: Ashley Airington

Wednesday night, Senate and House budget negotiators released their conference budget report for floor consideration by the General Assembly Friday evening.  As previously noted, no specific line item focused on children’s health or mental health in the House or Senate budget recommendations  however, a few budget recommendations will have an impact on the health and mental health of children and families in Virginia.

Same Day Access & GAP Eligibility 

The conference report includes $6.2 million to implement “Same-Day Access” services at Virginia’s Community Services Boards. While $6.2 million is a great start to the implementation of Same Day Access, it is $2 million reduction in funding from the Governor’s introduced budget for Same Day Access. The $2 million will instead be used to expand income eligibility criteria for GAP (Governor’s Access Program) from 80 to 100% of the federal poverty level. In addition, language adds addiction recovery and treatment services, including partial day hospitalization and residential treatment.


Implementation plans for the mental health system

We are pleased that language was added to extend  SJ47 Joint Subcommittee Studying Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century until Dec 1st 2019. Additionally, $250,000 has been allocated to support the efforts of SJ47, which is leading the efforts to transform the mental health system in Virginia.

$250,000 GF will be appropriated to HHR repare an implementation plan to transform the behavioral health system of care into a model which reflects best practice and state-of-the-art services by treating individuals in the community when appropriate. Report is due Sept 1, 2017 and will include financial realignment of the system.

Other initiatives related to Mental Health 

Perinatal Quality Collaborative– $124,470 GF & $82,980 NGF for the Virginia Department of Health to establish and administer a Perinatal Quality Collaborative.   The Collaborative shall “work to improve pregnancy outcomes for women and newborns by advancing evidence-based clinical practices and processes through continuous quality improvement”.  Voices supports improving these practices and would like to see community-based supports outside a clinical setting included in the discussion.

Study to Expand Telemental Health Services – This language amendment directs the Joint Commission on Health Care to study ways to increase the use of telemental services in Virginia. The Joint Commission on Health Care shall provide an interim report to the Joint Subcommittee Studying Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century by November 1, 2017, and shall submit a final report with findings by November 1, 2018.

Public Awareness of Psychiatric Medication Risks– This language amendment added by the budget conferees directs the Joint Commission on Health Care study ways to increase public awareness about the concerns related to psychiatric medications used to treat ADHD and other disorders. More specifically the study will examine the following,  (i) to raise awareness of risks related to the mental and physical health side effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medication use and risks from potential drug addiction from ADHD medication use; (ii) to compile and track statistics regarding the number of children in Virginia schools who are diagnosed with ADHD or other categories such as “specific learning disabilities, other health impairment, multiple disorder, and emotional disturbances” in the most effective means possible; (iii) used by other states and countries to limit antipsychotic use and the best methods for developing similar systems in the Commonwealth, including approaches and interventions which focus on treatment, recovery, and legal penalties; and (iv) to identify the incidence and prevalence of prescribing anti-psychotics for off-label use by general physicians and psychiatrists for treatment of ADHD for which there is no FDA indication.” Voices will monitor and offer to provide input on this analysis throughout the duration of this study. A report is due report no later than November 30, 2018.






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