This past week Congress began action on spending legislation for mental illness research and services for the coming federal fiscal year that will begin on October 1. The massive $136.7 billion FY 2003 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill (S2766) includes important increases for mental illness research and services programs, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). The bill reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 18 would allocate $5.8 billion more than President Bush requested - a 7% increase over current year totals. The House has not begun work on its version of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill and not expected to until after the coming August recess.
For programs of concern to NAMI - at both NIMH and CMHS - there are important increases in the Senate bill. For biomedical research, the bill includes a $3.7 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - completing the five-year bipartisan effort to double the NIH budget began in 1998 (bringing the FY 2003 budget for NIH up to $27 billion). For CMHS, the Senate holds most programs at their current level and accepts the President’s request for a $7 million increase for PATH. A separate appropriations bill that covers funding for the U.S. Justice Department includes an additional $3 million in funding for the Mental Health Courts program.
As Congress moves forward on the FY 2003 spending bill, NAMI will be pressing members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Bush Administration on a number of key funding priorities for research and services programs. Specifically, NAMI will be asking that the final version of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill includes:
More details on research and services programs of concern to NAMI can be found by viewing NAMI’s testimony to the House Appropriations Committee on the FY 2003 Labor-HHS-Education bill.
As was noted above, the Senate bill contains an overall increase for NIH of $3.7 billion, up to $27 billion, a 13.8% increase. As noted above, this increase would complete the five-year effort to double the NIH budget. At the same time, the increase recommended for NIMH is below the average increase for the NIH as a whole. Specifically, the Senate bill recommends $1.359 billion for NIMH, $111 million more than current funding or a 7.8% increase. This is the same amount recommended by President Bush in his FY 2003 budget proposal.
The Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill proposes to increase overall funding for the Center for Mental Health Services (part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA) by $12 million in FY 2003. Below is a summary of funding levels for selected programs of concern to children and adults with severe mental illnesses and their families:
Senate Bill Adds $3 Million for Mental Health Courts Program at the Justice Department
On July 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved separate legislation that includes the FY 2003 budget for the U.S. Department of Justice. This legislation - known as the Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations bill - must be passed by the first day of the new federal fiscal year that begins on October 1. Included in the Senate Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations bill is $3 million in funding for the federal Mental Health Courts program. If enacted, this $3 million appropriation would be on top of $4 million Congress approved in FY 2002. NAMI advocates are still awaiting an announcement of funding availability from the Justice Department on the Mental Courts program.
NAMI strongly believes that the Mental Health Courts program should be fully funded at the $10 million level authorized by Congress. For more information, see NAMI’s testimony in favor of additional funding for the federal Mental Health Court program.