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At Advocates for Ohio's Future, we talk a lot about the interconnectedness of health and human services, and how public policy shifts in one area can impact others, also known as "unintended consequences." One reason we are pushing for more resources in the state budget to be directed to behavioral health is because we know that the population of Ohioans needing community mental health and addiction services is about to explode because of policy reforms in other areas.
On Friday, Governor John Kasich signed the “Pill Mill” Bill into law. The emergency measure went into effect immediately after it was signed. The act limits prescribers’ ability to personally distribute certain drugs, improves licensing of pain-management clinics, and develops a statewide “take-back” program. More than ever, Ohioans addicted to prescription drugs will need community-based services to recover from addiction, especially in the Appalachian communities where pill mills are most prevalent.
The legislature is also considering sentencing reforms that aim to reduce our overcrowded prison populations by diverting lower-level offenders. Many of these offenders have mental health and addition issues and were convicted of drug-related charges. When this population transitions out of prison, behavioral health programs and services will see another increase in demand.
These two policy changes will result in more Ohioans needing behavioral health services. If we can provide a secure infrastructure of community-based services, we can treat these needs at a lower cost and intervene before situations turn critical. If we don't shore up our community-based system, then people will be driven into more expensive emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, and jails.
Advocates for Ohio's Future needs your help make sure community behavioral health services are adequately funded.
Will you call your senator and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chris Widener (614-466-3780) and send the following urgent message?
- Policy changes will result in more Ohioans needing community-based behavioral health services. If we can provide a secure infrastructure of community-based services, we can treat these needs at a lower cost and intervene before situations turn critical. If we don't shore up our community-based system, then people will be driven into more expensive emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, and jails. I urge you to restore funding to community-based care and behavioral health services.
- Any new revenue identified during the budget process must be prioritized for health, human service, and early care & education programs. If revenue projections increase, then those additional funds should be used to improve vital services for Ohio’s most vulnerable.
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These daily emails will end tomorrow, by which time the Senate Finance Committee will be considering amendments, but Advocates for Ohio's Future will continue to keep you informed throughout the upcoming Senate debate and conference committee process.
We appreciate your continual support.
Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, Co-Chair