TRENTON, N.J. – Legislation Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors to help address the lack of access to psychiatric care in New Jersey was approved today by the Assembly. The bill (S2331/A3962) creates a tuition reimbursement program for psychiatrists who work in underserved areas of the state.
“We need to seriously begin addressing the lack of access to mental health care in New Jersey,” said Muñoz (R-Union). “It’s an alarming problem that has been going on for years and is growing worse. There aren’t enough psychiatrists to meet the demand for their services and, for individuals fortunate to get an appointment, the wait times can be one to two months or longer. That isn’t acceptable.
“It’s time to begin creating an environment where behavioral health care providers will want to practice in our state,” continued Muñoz. “Providing tuition reimbursement won’t solve the crisis, but it’s a good starting point.”
Earlier this week, a newspaper reported that an exodus of psychiatrists is putting a strain on mental health care in New Jersey. Some doctors are taking jobs in the private sector while others are retiring, which means fewer doctors for more patients.
Muñoz’s bill will provide reimbursement for a portion of medical school tuition expenses to psychiatrists who agree to provide mental health care services in an underserved area in New Jersey for one to four years.
New Jersey provides tuition reimbursement programs for primary care physicians and dentists to promote access to primary care services in medically underserved areas. It also administers the nursing faculty loan redemption program that was established to address the current and projected critical shortage of nurse faculty.