February 22, 2022 News & Press Releases

Senate Democrats Release Plans To Address Long-Standing Health Care Issues In Virginia, Propose Generational Investments In Behavioral Health Infrastructure

by Democratic Party of Virginia

Meanwhile, House Republicans Propose Massive Cuts To Essential Programs

Richmond, VA — Earlier this week, Senate Democrats released their budget, building on the strengths of the budget introduced by Governor Northam and demonstrating their continued commitment to improving the health of Virginians in every corner of the commonwealth and investing in stronger behavioral health infrastructure. 

The budget put forth by Senate Democrats protects essential funding to provide community-based treatment for substance use disorders in response to record overdose deaths during the pandemic, includes hundreds of millions in funding to build capacity in our community-based behavioral healthcare system and address significant capacity issues in our state psychiatric hospitals. Their budget also takes decisive action to reduce behavioral health staffing shortages and improve recruitment and retention at the state and local levels with over $130 million for bonuses and compensation. These are the types of investments that will build a stronger behavioral health infrastructure and better serve Virginians.  

While the Senate Democrats are working to fund these important programs, House Republicans  released a budget that falls $600 million short of the Senate proposal. It includes millions in cuts to successful and proven programs like the Virginia Mental Health Access Project–an innovative program that connects children with mental health services. They’ve slashed more than $10 million in funding for permanent supportive housing, a program that provides housing and wraparound services, allowing individuals experiencing mental illness to live in community-based settings.

“The budget proposed by Senate Democrats includes substantial investments in our system that will address long-standing deficiencies and build a stronger behavioral healthcare system for the future,” said DPVA Chair Susan Swecker. “House Republicans on the other hand have chosen to cut millions in funding from innovative programs that would better our communities with access to essential treatment and permanent supportive housing at a time when Virginians are still recovering from this pandemic.”