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BernCo Takes First Steps in Creating Behavioral Health "Business Plan"

04/29/2015
Catherine Lopez

At its April 28 meeting, the Bernalillo County Commission took two key steps toward the goal of increasing access to mental health and substance abuse treatment services. After issuing a Request for Proposal and an extensive review process, the commission approved a contract with Community Partners, Inc. to help the county create a coordinated behavioral health care system.

Community Partners, Inc. of Tucson, Arizona will make recommendations for the establishment of a governing body, strong oversight and practices to manage behavioral health funding, identify potential partnerships with regional funders and local governments, and propose a governance structure for collaborative efforts.  After receiving the highest ranking from the selection committee among the six applicants, Community Partners was awarded a two-year contract valued at $324,611.

“I’m pleased to have Community Partners working with us as we move forward to meet the needs of Bernalillo County residents,”Commission Vice Chair Art De La Cruz says. “Their experience and expertise will help us design and implement an effective, coordinated behavioral healthcare system that has been lacking in our community.”

Earlier this year, the Bernalillo County Commission approved a one-eighth percent gross receipts tax increase to fund mental health and substance use disorder treatment services. The measure is expected to generate about $17-20 million a year and will be used to fund major gaps in mental health and drug treatment services in Bernalillo County, and to provide coordination of care and support services for residents seeking treatment. Preliminary priorities include a crisis response center, supportive housing, and intensive case management and prevention services.

In a related vote, commissioners approved a resolution to invite representatives from other local governments and funders to discuss strategies for coordinating behavioral health spending and services.  The resolution will invite leaders from regional local governments, the State of New Mexico, and other major funders to discuss aligning resources to better serve the region.

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