United Way of Broward County
2014 Legislative Agenda
Behavioral Health Funding and Accessibility
United Way of Broward County calls on the Florida Legislature to increase funding for behavioral health services, and provide full access to mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention services for all Floridians.
Florida ranks 49th among the states in annual per capita funding for mental health services.  Without appropriate levels of care, individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues will experience poorer health outcomes, dying on average 25 years earlier than healthy peers, and a greater likelihood of involvement with other more costly systems of care.  Failure to provide adequate behavioral health care results in societal costs being shifted to other sectors of government at a higher cost with less or no appropriate care such as our prison system.  More than 20% of individuals in Florida jails or prisons have a mental health disorder, and 74% of this population suffers from some form of substance abuse.  25% of Florida’s homeless population suffers from some form of mental illness and/or substance abuse. 
Florida has been the epicenter for the prescription drug abuse epidemic killing nearly seven people every week across the state at the height of the epidemic. The passage and implementation of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and the effective efforts of law enforcement in closing down pain clinics has positively impacted prescription drug abuse trafficking across the State.  Adequate funding for the PDMP remains an issue due to the funding restrictions imposed by Florida statutes. Yet, the demand for treatment services keeps increasing and the funding keeps decreasing. These are dangerous trends for our communities and state.
In 2008 the Florida Legislature Statute 304.9082 authorized the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to establish regional behavioral health Managing Entities (ME) to direct all behavioral health services across the State.  From the fiscal years 2011 through 2013 DCF began the procurement process and selected the ME’s for each of the DCF regions.  While the Statute authorized funding from DCF through efficiencies realized from the implementation of the ME’s, the Florida Legislature in its 2012/2013 appropriations, reduced DCF behavioral health funding by $12 million. 
  • INCREASE funding for behavioral health services.
  • AMEND Florida statutes to remove funding restrictions for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
  • OPTIMIZE access to quality behavioral health treatment and prevention services for all Florida residents by increasing funding of proven, evidence based programs.
  • Increase funding for behavioral health services by $75 million, the equivalent of $5 per day for every Floridian age 18 or older.
  • Restore all recurring funds from non-recurring funding.
  • Statistics show that 20% of individuals, who need behavioral healthcare but are unable to get it, will become involved in the criminal justice system. The cost of intensive community mental health treatment is $20,000 per person per year, while the cost of a prison bed is $60,000 per person per year.