Funding Restored to EBNHC in State Budget

By John Lynds

The $250,000 in funding to help foster a better partnership between the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) and North Suffolk Mental Health (NSMH) to deal with mental health and substance abuse issues in the area was restored late Saturday night by the legislature.

The amendment for the funding was first drafted by Rep. Adrian Madaro with the help of EBNHC administrators and approved during the House’s version of the budget a few months back. The amendment was carried through the Senate by Sen. Joseph Boncore.

However, during the Governor’s veto process the $250,000 was reduced to $75,000 but both Madaro and Boncore were able to secure enough votes to override the veto for this particular line item over the weekend.

The money will fund additional mental health and substance abuse services at the Health Center through an integrated behavioral health program at EBNHC with NSMH as its partner.

The funding will allow patients to move seamlessly from their primary care providers to addiction specialists, providing access to necessary treatment models.

“My goal with this legislation was to craft an amendment that bridges the gap between the Health Center and NSMH as it relates to mental health and substance abuse issues,” said Madaro. “This will once and for all allow patients struggling with mental health and addiction issues work not only with their primary health care providers at EBNHC but with experts at NSMH to formulate an aggressive approach to treating their disease.”

Boncore added, “In overriding Gov. Baker’s veto, The Senate and House renewed their commitment to substance abuse and mental health services. By funding an integrated primary care-behavioral health model at the East Boston Health Center, this amendment ensures that patients will move seamlessly from their primary care providers to addiction specialists, rather than the court house.”

EBNHC CEO Manny Lopes thanked both Madaro and Boncore for their leadership.

“We are deeply grateful to both Representative Madaro and Senator Boncore for leading the effort in this override” said Lopes. “Adrian has a proven track record in our community of fighting for both Mental Health and Substance Abuse support and it is great to see our new Senator have an equally passionate commitment. These are battles we cannot fight alone.”

The Health Center’s Chief Behavioral Health Officer Michael Mancusi said EBNHC is delighted to hear about the override.

“The Health Center is doing all it can with its current resources to meet the critical need to integrate behavioral health within primary care, and we have already seen some great improvements in patient care as a result,” said Mancusi. “To further scope and scale these critically needed services we will need to collaborate with community partners and attract continuing support on behalf of our patients. This huge, ongoing Health Center priority is inspired by the great unmet need for integrated behavioral in the communities we serve.”

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