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Published on Monday, December 18, 2017

AWC board finalizes legislative priority to address behavioral health challenges

On December 8, the AWC board approved more specific language for our legislative priority to address behavioral health challenges across the state.

Please begin to talk to your legislators about helping your city respond to emerging challenges on city streets across the state by:

Ensuring a better funded and strengthened traditional mental health delivery system
Ensure appropriate funding for the mental health and chemical dependency system. City streets are where the consequences of an underfunded mental health and chemical dependency system appear. We support efforts to provide necessary funding to the state and county mental health systems to ensure capacity to meet the needs arising across the state for mental health and chemical dependency services. This includes sufficient Medicaid reimbursement rates, support for coordinated treatment, increasing no or low barrier treatment beds, support for step-down services and crisis facilities, and programs for transient drug populations.

Creating a strengthened partnership between cities and existing service providers
Create a program to leverage investments already being made by cities. Although cities are not direct service providers, many communities have begun investing limited resources because the needs are so great. Each city has unique challenges and many have begun to partner with service providers to address those challenges. Focused investment from the state in the form of a $10 million program funded from marijuana taxes to match these local dollars would stretch these efforts and public resources further by supporting city programs that provide access to care, diversion from incarceration, de-escalation by embedding social workers with police and other means to provide targeted relief.

Directing more robust prevention efforts
Support efforts to create or enhance efforts to prevent opioid abuse. The opioid crisis requires a multifaceted approach, including prevention. AWC will look for opportunities to weigh in and connect interested cities in efforts to enhance prevention efforts such as: proposals to make it easier to safely dispose of unwanted drugs to reduce the opportunity for those drugs to make it into the wrong hands, expanded access to medically assisted treatment to prevent opioid overdoses, efforts to enhance prescription drug monitoring and other efforts to address overprescribing.

Categories: Human services