March 25, 2019- We the undersigned write to respectfully urge the legislature to support the $1.5 million in the Governor’s budget as well as an additional $1.5 million to fund the behavioral health ombudsman project, a joint project of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and the Office of Mental Health known as Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Healthcare Project (CHAMP). CHAMP is a first-in-the-nation independent consumer assistance program specifically designed to help individuals, their families and their providers overcome insurance barriers to accessing life-saving substance use disorder and mental health services. To date, in just five short months, CHAMP has helped over 400 New Yorkers and saved consumers more than $120,000. However, a total appropriation of $3 million is needed to ensure that CHAMP can adequately and timely meet New Yorkers’ urgent need for help overcoming insurance barriers to substance use disorder and mental health care.
CHAMP provides services through a central live-answer, toll-free helpline operated by Community Service Society in partnership with four specialist organizations: Legal Action Center, Medicare Rights Center, NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, and The Legal Aid Society. The helpline currently operates Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 4PM, but extended evening and weekend hours are essential to increase access to this critical resource.
CHAMP has also partnered with five community-based organizations (CBOs) to publicize CHAMP, educate consumers and providers about their insurance rights, and leverage their community knowledge and local trust to help connect New Yorkers to care. The CBOs provide services in 24 out of 62 counties of the state. Additional funding will enable CHAMP to substantially increase the geographic reach of its CBO network to serve the 38 counties not currently covered.
Throughout the state, New Yorkers are dealing with complex insurance barriers that delay or totally impede New Yorkers’ access to life-saving substance use and mental health services. CHAMP can help. A total appropriation of $3 million will enable CHAMP to increase its capacity so that it can provide helpline assistance to more people and partner with more CBOs to spread the word to those who need it most.
Click here to sign on to support additional funding for CHAMP.
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Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
Community Healthcare Network
Elizabeth Berardi, Safe Sober Living
Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities
Harm Reduction Coalition
Horizon Health Services
Lara Kassel, Medicaid Matters NY
Legal Action Center
Metropolitan Center for Mental Health
National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City, Inc.
North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center
Where There’s A Will Fund