March 12, 2014: PsychOdyssey testifies on Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Medicaid, and the New Jersey FY 2015 Budget
On March 12, 2014, PsychOdyssey’s Tom Pyle testified before the New Jersey State Assembly’s Budget Committee on the FY 2015 state budget proposed by Governor Chris Christie. Tom was representing the New Jersey Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, but spoke from his personal experience as the father of a loved one with a psychiatric disability. He highlighted the essential role of psychiatric rehabilitation in recovery and the insufficiency of New Jersey’s Medicaid support for psychiatric rehabilitation’s cost effective evidence-based practices. He appealed to the to Legislature to assure adequate funding of this critical safety net system for those with psychiatric disabilities.
Read Tom’s testimony on the FY 2015 budget here.
In 2009 New Jersey passed its “Gregory’s Law“, named for an 11 year old boy murdered by a man with untreated schizophrenia. Although signed by the Governor, the law has not been fully implemented. Only six counties have been able to implement the law so far. Funds for the overall roll-out were held back by the Governor as strove to balance New Jersey’s budget.
As a result, new legislation has arisen to extend this involuntary commitment treatment law. Assemblyman (and Assembly Deputy Majority Leader) Reed Gusciora has proposed passage of A.2685 to do this. But the legislation goes further. It also seeks to strengthen the provisions of involuntary outpatient treatments by permitting mandate “depot dosing” of anti-psychotic medications. “Depot dosing” is the administration by injection of medication with slow-release molecules which enable medication to be available in a person’s body for 4 to 6 weeks. Depot dosage is favored by some as more convenient, avoiding the daily need to manage medications.
But depot dosage raises other issues, notably side effects. If a patient receiving depot dosage has a nasty side-effect after, say, 2 days, how would that person endure the rest of the month’s period? As a municipal prosecutor, Assemblyman Gusciora may be moved by the laudable aim of helping those who may not be able to help themselves. But many other issues also make forced depot dosing a problematic practice.
To address the issues, today PsychOdyssey’s Tom Pyle testified before the Human Services Committee of the New Jersey State Assembly.
To hear Tom’s testimony, click this link (or cut and paste into Internet Explorer)…
Click the “listen” link” for the February 24 hearing to access the audio. (Tom’s testimony begins at 42:30 on the recording clock.) To see the slides to which Tom refers by page number during his oral presentation , click here.
In the fall of 2010, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced the State’s intention to close Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Glen Gardner, N.J. On December 8, 2010, Tom Pyle of PsychOdyssey Services presented testimony about the proposal to the New Jersey State Mental Health Facilities Evaluation Task Force. Framing his presentation from the perspective of experience as a family member, a business executive, a non-profit manager, a New Jersey citizen and taxpayer, and a student of psychiatric rehabilitation, he concludes in favor of closure for the good of the overall system of mental health services statewide. Rather than declare a specific position, he instead posed 20 questions about Hagedorn and the State psychiatric hospital system.