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Vainieri Huttle Lauds Return of Division of Mental Health & Addiction Services to Department of Human Services

(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen/Passaic) today praised Gov. Murphy’s decision to return the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which was transferred to the Department of Health last October under a rushed and ill-advised plan by the former Christie administration, back to the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Vainieri Huttle introduced a bill (A-3065) in February to return the division to DHS.

The governor today announced his plan to move the division back to DHS.

“I am elated that the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services will return to the Department of Human Services which is better equipped to do this important work.
“I opposed the move because I was concerned about how such a massive restructuring would impact the delivery of services given the lack of clarity about how the reorganization plan would be implemented.

“While I agreed that mental health and substance abuse diagnoses are indeed health issues and that primary physical healthcare must be integrated with mental healthcare and addiction treatment, I was concerned about the hasty and unilateral approach with which the plan was being pushed through.

“As then chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, I convened a hearing with my Senate counterpart where many health and addiction experts shared the same concerns.

“The plan presented by former Gov. Christie lacked a detailed integration strategy which jeopardized the delivery of critical behavioral health and addiction services to individuals in need. The plan also failed to address the maintenance of coordinated care for individuals with developmental disabilities.

“Thanks to Gov. Murphy, the division will now return to DHS which has the experience and expertise needed to administer the provision of services to large populations.”