|NAMI New Hampshire
The 2023 legislative session proved both surprising and challenging. Thanks to your advocacy, however, NAMI NH experienced tremendous successes among our key legislative priorities. The collective efforts of individuals who shared their personal stories, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, advocates, and State of NH officials resulted in legislative wins that support the mental health of Granite Staters, including $134 million in funding for Medicaid Rate increases; 7-year reauthorization for Medicaid Expansion, and sufficient funding to support the NH DHHS “Mission Zero” Plan (to address Emergency Department boarding) in its entirety.
Improving Access to Mental Health/Physical Health Care
Our advocacy surrounding the State Budget, in collaboration with a vast network of partners, resulted in a historic bipartisan budget with significant investments in healthcare. This budget includes a seven-year reauthorization for the Granite Advantage Health Care Program, New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program, and unprecedented funding for Medicaid rate increases, including approximately $43 million in support for NH’s community mental health system. Additionally, this budget contains several provisions to improve maternal physical health and mental health, including an extension of Medicaid services from 60 days to 12 months postpartum.
Beyond the budget, prior authorization requirements for emergency behavioral health services were prohibited, bringing emergency mental health care into parity with emergency physical health care.
A bill expanding the ability for providers to prescribe certain mental health medications, including ones for ADHD and anxiety, through telemedicine was also passed, increasing access to treatment for Granite Staters in rural environments and those who are otherwise unable to regularly attend in-person appointments.
This session, suicide prevention partners were successful in passing a bill that adds a definition for behavioral health crisis programs to NH’s mental health treatment laws, inclusive of 988, mobile crisis, and crisis stabilization. Additionally, this bill establishes a commission to study such programs and recommend mechanisms for sustainable funding.
Unfortunately, a bill that would have established a process for Extreme Risk Protection Orders in New Hampshire which could help prevent suicide deaths involving firearms was unsuccessful.
Advocacy for children was a key focus for NAMI NH this legislative session. Early in the session, child advocacy partners were successful in postponing the closure date of the Sununu Youth Services Center, and later in outlining the parameters and securing the funding for a replacement facility providing care and services that are evidence-based and trauma informed. Collective advocacy in this space also resulted in the prohibition of the use of the prone restraint and the use of seclusion as a punishment for minors.
Further, the NH State Budget includes funding for NH’s Multi-Tiered System of Support for Behavioral Health and Wellness Model (MTSS-B) and provides a network of early childhood behavioral health supports.
Finally, working alongside a broad coalition of partners, we were successful in defeating a number of bills that could have jeopardized the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ young people.
Unfortunately, bills that would have expanded minors’ access to mental health treatment without parental consent, mandated mental health education in schools, and allowed for excused absences for mental and behavioral health issues, were unsuccessful this session.
We are already looking at priorities for the 2024 legislative session! Get involved with mental health advocacy by joining us for a State House Tour (August 18th), signing up for It’s Your Move Advocacy Training (Fall 2023), and subscribing to Public Policy Alerts.