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SAMHSA News - Volume XI, Number 1, Winter 2003

President's 2004 Budget Proposes "Access to Recovery"

President George W. Bush's proposed Fiscal Year 2004 budget for SAMHSA continues the President's commitment to reduce illicit drug use through the creation of a new treatment-services voucher program called "Access to Recovery." Other priorities include increases in mental health services for children and homeless individuals and an increase in program management dollars that will be used to maintain support for data collection.

The overall budget proposal for SAMHSA totals $3.4 billion-a net increase of $198 million or 6.2 percent over the Fiscal Year 2003 appropriation.

"The President clearly recognizes how serious drug addiction and mental health problems are and how important treatment is," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. "His proposed budget supports the matrix of programs and principles that guides our priorities and decisions here at SAMHSA."

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Substance Abuse

The proposed budget requests $2.5 billion for substance abuse prevention and treatment activities-a 10-percent increase over last year.

The "Access to Recovery" initiative continues to fulfill the President's promise to invest 1.6 billion new dollars in addiction treatment over 5 years. Of that $1.6 billion, the President proposed $600 million over the next 3 years for this initiative in his State of the Union address. The first $200 million installment is included in the President's proposed 2004 budget for SAMHSA.

In the first year, the program would provide vouchers to approximately 100,000 people who need alcohol or drug treatment services. In addition to increasing treatment capacity, this new state voucher program would increase consumer choice and access to a comprehensive continuum of options, including faith-based and community-based programs.

To help people who use drugs but aren't necessarily dependent on them, the budget provides $50 million to continue the State Targeted Capacity Expansion program launched in 2003. The program would allow states to expand screening and brief intervention services in communities.

The budget also requests $1.8 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program, which helps support more than 10,500 prevention and treatment organizations around the country.

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Mental Health

The President requested $834 million for mental health services.

The budget proposal would increase funding for Children's Mental Health Services to $107 million, a level that would support services for almost 17,000 children and adolescents with serious emotional disorders and their families.

The proposal also increases funding for the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness program to $50 million, to bring 147,000 homeless people into treatment for mental illness and substance abuse as well as to provide housing. In addition, SAMHSA will be a major contributor to an interagency effort called the Collaborative Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness (See SAMHSA News Article).

The budget also includes an increase for homeless "policy academies" that bring state policymakers together to improve service coordination at the state and local levels.

Other budget items include: a New Freedom Initiative demonstration project with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to allow selected states to establish home- and community-based alternatives for children who previously would have been served in Medicaid-funded residential treatment centers; grants to assist states in developing programs for individuals with co-occurring mental and addictive disorders; and grants to help states decrease use of seclusion and restraints in mental health facilities.

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Program Management

The Fiscal Year 2004 budget includes $85 million to support increased contribution to the Agency's national surveys. The request includes savings of $2 million associated with the President's Management Agenda. The reduction reflects anticipated savings from future competitive sourcing of commercial activities, as well as savings in other administrative areas.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said, "The fact that the budget contains so much investment in the health and welfare of Americans demonstrates President Bush's unwavering commitment to the well-being of our citizens, including those most in need. With this budget, the President recognizes that America's greatest asset is its people, and he invests in making its people as strong and healthy as possible."

For more information, go to and click on "FY 2004 Budget in Brief."

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