By Patrick Donachie
A little more than a year after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced ThriveNYC, a new behavioral health initiative to expand the availability of such services in the city, New York’s budget for behavioral health care is slated to grow by about 25 percent in the next few years, according to an analysis by the city’s Independent Budget Office.
The report cites the “uncertain financial landscape” the city faces and says “whether the de Blasio Administration can commit the expected level of city funds to the new and expanded services under ThriveNYC remains to be seen.”
De Blasio announced ThriveNYC in November 2015, a mix of new programs and expansions for programs already in existence, according to the IBO. ThriveNYC will raise the city’s budget for behavioral health services from $969 million in 2015 to $1.2 billion in 2019.
“If you look at how mental illness has been addressed over the years, you see a lot of broken promises. You don’t see a concerted, holistic effort to help people be well and stay well,” de Blasio said at the time. “It will take years to address the problem the way it should be addressed. But we need to start now, we need to start aggressively.”
The new budget approach will lead the city to underwrite more of the behavioral programs, at 79 percent of funding compared to 9 percent from the state, 7 percent from federal sources and 5 percent from asset forfeiture funds from the Manhattan DA.
Increases include new health services for the street and shelter homeless, rising to $53.9 million by 2019, more behavioral health clinicians throughout the city as well as expanded services in public schools and for people involved with the criminal justice system.
The ThriveNYC proposed budget will affect a wide variety of behavioral health service providers throughout the city and Queens, as well as the city’s public hospital system, two of which are located in Queens (the Queens Hospital Center in Jamaica and the Elmhurst Medical Center).
The IBO determined that ThriveNYC’s budget allocation will “change the city’s role in the behavioral health care system from that primarily of a funder to that of an active participant,” due to a plethora of new programs instigated by the city in the program’s implementation.
Though ThriveNYC will increase the budget for behavioral health providers, questions remain as to its impact on existing providers, according to the IBO.
The city may decide to detract funding going to these services in order to properly fund the new programs created by ThriveNYC.
“If the city instead opts to fund these positions in future years using its existing budget for contracted services, organizations could see a reduction in their city funding,” the report read.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona