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Vainieri Huttle Concerned that Christie’s Plan to Reorganize Mental Health & Addiction Services Will Move Forward without Key Answers or Details

Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) expressed disappointment Thursday that the Christie administration’s plan to transfer the state’s mental health and addiction services from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health will now seemingly move forward.

Vainieri Huttle was the lead sponsor of legislation passed by the Assembly in July that would have blocked this move based on a litany of concerns regarding the content, potential effects, and timing of the planned reorganization. With the plan scheduled to go into effect on Monday, the Senate had scheduled a voting session for tomorrow to take up the matter, however, the session was cancelled this afternoon.

“I’m extremely disappointed that this plan will seemingly take effect now when we still haven’t received any details or answers to the host of questions we have about its implementation.

“With the fate of so many of our most vulnerable residents hanging in the balance, it seems careless to embark on such a complex transition without concrete details when the current administration has one foot out the door. As I have said repeatedly, we have no idea what the impact of this restructuring will be on those who rely on these services, but the one thing we do know is that a change of this magnitude should not be undertaken without those answers.

“Ultimately, I would like to see the governor reconsider this plan but, if not, this transition must be undertaken carefully and not hastily. Hopefully the next administration will reexamine this issue thoroughly to ensure that it is in fact the right thing to do for those suffering from mental health, addiction and developmental disabilities,” said Vainieri Huttle.