House Appropriations Subcommittee hearings on the FY09 budget have begun. Congressional Committees have hearings to review the Administration’s budget requests and advocates are given the opportunity to educate Members of Congress and their staff about the importance of programs that must be funded through the Appropriations process. Two recent Congressional hearings were on the budgets of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA] and the Office of National Drug Control Policy [ONDCP].
On March 5, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held a hearing on Health Issues and Opportunities. The SAMHSA Administrator, Terry Cline, pointed out that the agency is advancing a more balanced public health approach that supports service delivery at each point on the continuum of care for an increasingly diverse population, an approach that represents the next step toward full integration of behavioral health care into national health care policy.
A number of programs were identified as priority areas for SAMHSA including the PATH program that provides outreach, screening, mental health, drug treatment, ans other needed services to homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless; SAMHSA drug treatment courts; and screening, Brief intervention, Referral and treatment [ SBIRT] grants to help identify individuals with emerging or undiagnosed substance abuse problems.
On March 12, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy convened a hearing, led by Rep. Kucinich [D-OH], Chair of the Subcommittee, to address ONDCP’s leadership on national drug control budget and policy issues. John P. Walters, Director, ONDCP emphasized that the current approach of the Administration to reduce youth drug use is working, and highlighted a number of priorities in its budget that have contributed to this success.