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Politics and Government

Syracuse health clinic in jeopardy if federal funding is not extended

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Sen. Charles Schumer meets with officials from Helio Health in Syracuse.

Federal funding for certified community behavioral health clinics, including one in Syracuse, is set to expire in a few months. The clinics offer addiction and mental health care, including treatment for opioids.

Thousands of people have been treated at the Helio Health clinic in Syracuse since a two-year pilot program was created. Now that it’s set to expire, Dr. Ross Sullivan, the Helio Health medical director, said if the funding is not extended, they will continue for as long as they can. 

“We have so many ancillary services that are integral to the health of this community," Sullivan said. "They talk about mobile crisis units who can literally, go out into any community and take people out to help them. We talk about treating withdrawal or addiction on demand. These are things that without appropriate funding will eventually, probably end.”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) visited Helio Health last week to highlight the importance of the program for adults and children.

“If we don’t have it, hundreds of central New York young people, who need treatment for addiction, who need mental health services, will not get it," Schumer said. "What will they do? Will the suicide rate go up? Will the addiction rate go up? Will the crime rate go up? All of those things could happen, those horrible things.”

There is a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would expand the funding another two years. Schumer said he’s making it a top priority to get it passed.

The federal governmnet is one of the largest funding sources for Helio Health. New York State could lose $25-30 million in funding if the program is not extended.