Gov. Christie calls for 864 new mental-health and substance-abuse beds

New Jersey Governors Race Christie
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

As part of its fight against the opioid crisis in New Jersey, Gov. Christie on Tuesday called for the addition of 864 beds in 13 counties for the treatment of individuals with behavioral-health and substance-abuse disorders. 

The targeted counties now have 678 adult psychiatric beds, according to a call for applications published by the New Jersey Department of Health. 

In the southern half of the state, Burlington and Camden Counties have a combined surplus of 297 beds while Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, and Salem Counties have a deficit of 269 beds, the health department estimated using a methodology that calls for 40 beds per 100,000 adults.

Phil Lubitz, associate director of NAMI New Jersey, an advocacy group for those affected by mental illness, welcomed the announcement of the added beds, but said much detail was missing. 

"I would suspect that the majority of the beds are going to be for people with a substance-abuse problem," Lubitz said.

He said the 5 percent set aside for Medicaid patients is low.

Christie is backing a bill that would require insurers to pay for up to six months of inpatient treatment for patients with substance abuse disorders.