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Public Statements

Letter to John Boehner, House Speaker, and Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House

Yesterday, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, joined by 35 of her fellow representatives, sent a letter to Democratic and Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives objecting to the extreme cuts to mental health services contained in the current House Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education Bill, H.R. 3070. The letter encouraged the House to adopt the Senate's version of the bill, which spreads budget cuts out more evenly instead of focusing on mental health services for deep cuts.

"This bill deals a crippling blow to our mental health services that would take years to recover from," Napolitano said. "We have already seen severe cuts to mental health services in recent years. This latest bill would decimate critical programs that our veterans, young people, and millions of other Americans need to avoid the suicide, crime, and imprisonment that come with untreated mental health issues."

Background:

· H.R. 3070 makes an 8.4 percent cut to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the main federal agency for mental health services.

· States have cut funding for mental health care by nearly $3.4 billion over the last 3 years.

· Suicide rates in America are currently higher than the rate of traffic fatalities (Department of Transportation). Suicides in the U.S. outnumber homicides by more than two to one. (World Health Organization)

· One out of five children and adolescents suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder, and one out of four Americans suffers from a mental health issue in a given year. (American Academy of Pediatrics, NAMI)

· The following is a copy of the letter:

Dear Speaker Boeher and Leader Pelosi:

On behalf of the House Mental Health Caucus and Congressional Members who support the mental health community, we respectfully request and urge you to reject the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill (HR 3070) that cuts funding for mental health and addiction services, and supports - by a whopping 8.4 percent - a crippling, irreversible cut that would take years to recover from. This bill comes on the heels of funding cuts already imposed in FY 2011 and only further decimates critical programs that ensure a strong public behavioral health infrastructure.

It is shocking and deeply troubling that the House would single out behavioral health at a time when most states have cut funding for mental health care by nearly $3.4 billion over the last 3 years. The brunt of the cuts to public health included in the bill would be borne by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In fact, HR 3070 cuts mental health funding by almost 25 percent-that would place their funding at the same level as nearly 12 years ago. The prevention portfolio at SAMHSA would be particularly hit hard at a time when the Institute of Medicine, in a 2009 report, declared that the prevention of mental health and substance abuse conditions among young people must be a national priority.

As we saw in the tragic events that occurred with the Arizona tragedy, we can no longer ignore the issue of mental health. The statistics serve as a constant reminder that more needs to be done to address the issue. America is facing a serious mental health crisis with suicide rates surpassing traffic fatalities and nearly doubling the number of deaths by homicide. With a record number of suicide deaths among service members, a growing number of young people facing mental health and addiction problems (half of those suffering from a mental illness will have the first onset by age 14), and so many Americans finding themselves homeless or in prison--this is one area where we cannot afford to make cuts. To do so, would only add to the already increasing problems that face our mental health system today. We are deeply concerned with HR 3070 and urge you to adopt more closely the moderate, balanced approach taken by the Senate in their bill. Should you have any questions or need further information, please contact Ane Romero in Congresswoman Napolitano's office at ane.romero@mail.house.gov or x-5-5256.

Sincerely,

o Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA)

o Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)

o Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)

o Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)

o Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

o Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)

o Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)

o Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)

o Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX)

o Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)

o Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

o Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX)

o Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)

o Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

o Rep. James Langevin (D-RI)

o Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

o Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA)

o Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)

o Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA)

o Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ)

o Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico)

o Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)

o Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)

o Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX)

o Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)

o Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)

o Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY)

o Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ)

o Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)

o Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA)

o Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY)

o Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY)

o Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)

o Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)


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