Mental health budget largely restored in latest Senate offer
Image via David Silvers.

Senators canceled their proposed 10% cut to projects, which make up a large portion of mental health services.

Federal funding and the additional $2 billion in estimated general revenue Florida is expected to see this year and next are helping patch gaps senators were recommending for health care expenditures, including in behavioral health care.

“There’s opportunities from the federal grants, there’s federal monies that are coming down and many of those things are being restored through federal grants,” said Senate health care budget chief Sen. Aaron Bean.

Among reductions restored in the budget are funding for crisis assessment teams. The Senate is also canceling the plan to cut project funding across the health care board by 10%.

The Senate had gone that route in an attempt to even out the hurt instead of cutting individual projects outright. However, most of the state’s mental health services are funded through individual projects rather than recurring revenue.

“Our teams right now, both the House and the Senate teams, are utilizing any and all means necessary that we can draw down as well as take advantage of grants,” Bean said. “We’re going to, I think, have a very good number for mental health.”

Melanie Brown-Woofter, president and CEO of the Florida Behavioral Health Association, was thankful to senators for restoring mental health care funding and canceling the 10% cuts. She had taken aim at the Senate’s proposed cuts last month when lawmakers announced their plans.

In terms of general revenue, health care funding overall is the second largest section of what lawmakers are planning, worth $12.4 billion, up from $10.6 billion last year. The Senate’s latest offer, general revenue, state and federal trust funds and all, is $44 billion, up from $42.3 billion slotted in their original budget plan. The House’s original House budget plan totals $42.1 billion but is expected to increase.

According to data prepared by FBHA, two-thirds of providers have seen a spike in crisis calls; 65% report an increase in overall call volume; non-fatal opioid overdoses jumped by 40% from 2019 to 2020; and suicide deaths were up in 22 counties year-over-year.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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