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The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Mental Health in New York
March 5, 2007

Coalition Sits Down With New OMH & OASAS Commissioners

Coalition staff recently had the opportunity to sit down with Commissioners Michael Hogan (OMH) and Karen Carpenter-Palumbo (OASAS) to welcome them to their new positions and to introduce ourselves and our issues.  We noted how pleased we were with the Governor Spitzer’s budget proposals for mental health and alcohol and substance abuse, and that we were looking forward to working with the new Administration to ensure that New Yorkers with behavioral health disorders could continue to access quality care in a variety of settings.

In both meetings, the Coalition noted the difficulties providers face in trying to implement evidence-based practices for which there is often little or no reimbursement, an issue that Dr. Hogan himself raised as Chairman of the President’s Freedom Commission on Mental Health. For example, we noted the regulatory and fiscal barriers providers face in trying to offer integrated dual disorder treatment (IDDT) to consumers with co-occurring addictive and psychiatric disorders.  We also discussed our Article 31 clinic rate methodology proposal, and noted the preliminary interest towards this proposal on behalf of senior officials at the Governor’s office and the Division of Budget.  On this latter issue, officials have asked us to provide a more detailed presentation of our proposal which will be scheduled in April.

The Coalition is very eager to work with both Commissioners and other leading State officials to strengthen programs and services that assist New Yorkers with behavioral health disorders, and to ensure that the State’s resources are directed to settings where they are most likely to receive their care.


City’s DOHMH Releases NY/NY III RFP’s

After much anticipation, the City’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) released two RFP’s connected with the New York/New York III Supportive Housing Agreement – one for scattered site units, the other for congregate housing units.  Together, these RFP’s call for the creation of 3,000 units of supportive housing for New Yorkers who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  When fully implemented, the entire NY/NY III Agreement will create 9,000 units of supportive housing over a ten-year period.

Providers who are interested in accessing these RFP’s should visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/acco/acco-rfp-NYNYCongregate-20070117-form.shtml and http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/acco/acco-rfp-NYNYScattersite-20070117-form.shtml.

The bidder’s conference for the Congregate Units will take place on Tuesday, March 6th at 2:00 PM at 125 Worth Street, 2nd Floor Auditorium.  The bidder’s conference for the Scattered Site Units will take place on Thursday, March 8th at 1:00 PM at 22 Reade Street in the Spector Hall Auditorium.


President’s FY 2008 Budget Proposal Seeks Substantial Cuts to the Medicaid Program


On February 6, 2007, the President sent his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2008 to Congress. The Administration’s budget proposal would cut federal Medicaid funding by approximately $25 billion over the next five years through a combination of both administrative and legislative proposals.

The Administration’s budget includes the following proposals: a shift in costs directly from the federal government to the states; a reduction in the federal contribution towards targeted case management; tightening allowable services that can be claimed as Medicaid rehabilitation services; limiting pharmacy reimbursement for certain drugs; allowing states to use more restrictive formularies for prescription drugs; and limiting Medicaid payments when a third-party may be liable.

If the President’s proposal is approved, states will be forced to either cut back on their Medicaid program or use additional state funds to replace the loss of federal Medicaid dollars.  

The budget proposal also includes a provision that would drastically cut Section 811 funding. This is the only program at the Department of Housing Urban Development (HUD) that still provides housing for people with severe disabilities.

The Coalition will continue to update you on the analysis and implementation of the President’s FY 2008 budget proposal as it develops.


Coalition Hosts IDDT Trainings

The Coalition’s Professional Learning Center once again collaborated with Dr. Petros Levounis to present a four-part training initiative for mental health and addiction clinicians, psychiatrists and nurses called Addiction and Mental Health: Concepts, Medications, Decisions, Reflections. The goal of this series was to educate staff from chemical dependency and mental health programs on the principles of psychopharmacology as applied to consumers who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse disorders.  Petros Levounis, MD, MA, is the Director of The Addiction Institute of New York (formerly Smithers) and Chief of Addiction Psychiatry at St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospitals in New York City.

Evaluation responses to the series, which ended March 1, were extremely positive.  Comments included: "[I] discovered where we are in terms of addiction in 2007", "very informative, [this training] has given me a new outlook that will help me in my career" and "the presenter was very engaging and able to explain complicated ideas simply".  Dr. Levounis will be returning to The Coalition in the fall as part of a new IDDT series.

Currently, The Coalition is presenting a six part series entitled "Integrating Motivational Interviewing in Article 31 Programs:  Overcoming Barriers in Mental Hygiene Regulations".  Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an approach to counseling that helps clients to enhance their motivation to reduce substance use or to be come abstinent in order to reach their personal goals. The presenter is Laura Travaglini, MA, Coordinator of the Substance Abuse Programs at Columbia University Eastside.

The Coalition will be offering more IDDT training in the Spring and Fall.  Watch your e-mail for notifications!


New Yorkers Elect Two New Members of the City Council

In a Special Election held on February 20th, New Yorkers chose Matthieu Eugene (40th District) and Vincent Ignizio (51st District) to replace two members of the Council who had departed for other elected positions.

Dr. Matthieu, a physician and the first Haitian-born member of the Council, will replace Yvette Clarke who was elected last November to fill the Congressional seat vacated by Major Owens.  His election has become very controversial, and even in doubt, since it has been alleged that he was not a resident of his District at the time of his election, as required by the NYC Election Law.  Expect political and legal maneuvers before the election is decided.

Mr. Ignizio, who represented the Staten Island’s 62nd Assembly District, will replace Andrew Lanza who was elected last November to fill the State Senate seat vacated by John Marchi.


Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery Delivers Training for Welcoming Clinics

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery developed a presentation on strategies for promoting recovery-enhancing services in Article 31 Clinics, primarily at the request of DOHMH’s Bureau of Planning, Evaluation and Quality Improvement. On January 23rd, Aaron Vieira, the Center’s Coordinator of Education and Training, delivered an interactive training on the topic to a large group of agency administrators, program directors and psychologists who had come together for a Welcoming Clinics project meeting.  The DOHMH team managing the project was particularly pleased with the balance that the presentation offered between clinical techniques and program-wide strategies for creating a recovery-oriented culture.


Continuum of Care Update

To the dismay of Coalition members and allied organizations and individuals, a task force of government agencies which sit on the New York City Coalition on the Continuum of Care will put forth a number of proposals at the March Steering Committee meeting aimed at redirecting HUD dollars away from existing programs and towards rent subsidies for new units of supportive housing under NY/NY III.  The task force is expected to recommend de-funding all programs designated as “outreach” by HUD, and will likely make another attempt to de-fund mental health housing programs with “higher than average” unit costs.

In addition, the task force will recommend a complete restructuring of the way in which HUD-funded Safe Haven operate, including new eligibility requirements for intake, the referral process to obtain access to the units, and the expected length of stay.  There are currently five HUD-funded Safe Haven programs operated by four providers.

Coalition members concerned or affected by these agenda items should make a special effort to attend the March Steering committee meeting, which will be held at CUCS, 120 Wall Street, in the first floor conference room.


Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 Passes Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee of the U.S. Senate


On February 14, 2007, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee of the U.S. Senate approved the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 (S. 588). The bill was introduced by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), which expands upon an existing 1996 federal parity law.

The new bill would prohibit employers and health plans from imposing durational treatment limits and financial limitations on coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment. It is unclear if this legislation would supercede existing state parity laws, including New York State’s Timothy’s Law.

The Coalition is still in the process of analyzing the new bill. Look for updates on this important bill in future editions of Briefs.  


Center’s Youth Initiative Work Group Update

On January 24, 2007, the Youth Initiative Work Group convened to focus on the ways that providers can enhance their support of youth and young adults in psychiatric treatment. Guest speakers Myla Harrison, MD, Assistant Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Child and Adolescent Services; Reese Abright, MD, Chief, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Service, St. Vincent's Hospital - Manhattan, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, New York Medical College; and Susan M. Deakins, MD, Associate Director, Fellowship in Public Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, addressed this question from a systems, community and clinical perspective. As a result of this discussion, Work Group participants concluded that forming collaborative relationships between providers and psychiatrists would ensure an integrated, multidisciplinary approach, crucial to a young person’s engagement in, and understanding of, treatment. Educating staff in terms of medication and diagnoses and addressing stigma associated with psychiatry are central to this process. Forthcoming Work Groups will address areas such as the inclusion of family in youth-centered treatment, violence prevention and enhancing services for young adults entering the adult provider system. 

If you would like to attend future sessions of the monthly work group, please contact Ms. Deborah Short at dshort@coalitionny.org or at 212-742-1600, ext. 235. If you have questions, please contact Amy Smiley, Ph.D., the Center’s Youth Consultant at asmiley@coalitionny.org .


Around the Watercooler

Paul Levine, LCSW, Associate Executive President of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, was elected president of the New York State Coalition of Children’s Mental Health Services, one of the state’s most effective advocates for children. He will serve a three-year term.

Michael Seereiter, the MHANYS Public Policy Director, has accepted a position with the office of Governor Spitzer’s Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services working on issues related to people with psychiatric and developmental disabilities as well as those with addiction treatment needs.

Lidiya Lednyak is now the Special Assistant to Dr. Jorge R. Petit in the Bureau of Program Services.  She can be reached at 212-219-5437, by fax# 212-219-5466 or by e-mail at llednyak@health.nyc.gov.

Kristin Proud will be Assistant Deputy Secretary to the Governor, concentrating on welfare, social services and antipoverty initiatives.

Other Spitzer appointments:

Assembly Insurance Committee Chair and AIDS champion Pete Grannis for the Department of Environmental Conservation;

Deborah VanAmerongen for the Division of Housing and Community Renewal;

Michael Burgess for commissioner of the Department of the Aging.




Upcoming Center Trainings

For more information about additional trainings and to register for any of those listed below, please visit the Center’s webpage, http://www.coalitionny.org/the_center/ . As demand very often exceeds available space, we encourage you to register yourself or your staff as soon as possible.

*All Center trainings can be used toward CPRP and CRC credentialing.

Introduction to Benefits Management

A half-day training offered in various locations across the city designed for clinicians and other staff new to benefits to: understand the fundamentals of the Social Security System, comprehend the difference between SSI, SSDI, Medicaid and Medicare, gain specific knowledge of resources that support consumers in their living and working goals, and enhance the ability of consumers to participate in their recovery process.  Fee: None

March 23rd, 2007, 1pm-4pm                                             


  Howie T. Harp Peer Advocacy Center, 2090 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd,   

  12th Floor

Core Competencies: Introduction to Mental Health, Rehabilitation and Recovery

This two day training is designed for front-line staff working in community support programs requiring basic knowledge in psychiatric rehabilitation, the role of treatment, and evidence-based practices. The two-day module includes: an overview of mental health and mental illness, history of mental illness treatment, information on psychiatric rehabilitation, recovery and resilience, discussion of the values and guiding principles of psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery and how these translate for individual consumers, service providers, programs and mental health systems.   Fee: $50 per person


March 20th- 21st, 2007, 9am-4pm            


  The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, 90 Broad Street, 8th Floor


Upcoming Coalition Trainings

3rd Annual Management Institute

David J. Powell, Ph.D., in an article on leadership in the October 2006 edition of Behavioral Healthcare, stated: “Leadership development is the number one issue facing the behavioral health field.  Time is running out, as today’s leaders are retiring in the next three to five years.  The problem can be resolved by a major national effort in recruitment, mentoring, and training of tomorrow’s leaders, but it must be done now if the field is to avert a management and leadership crisis in the not-too-distant future.” 

Anticipating the problem in 2004, The Coalition through its Professional Learning Center developed the first of two discrete training series for new managers followed in 2005 by training for middle managers.  This year we roll out an even more intensive training curriculum for new managers in a six part series designed to help program staff learn crucial skills and tools necessary in order to succeed as managers.  

New managers are encouraged to participate in all six sessions but are welcomed to pick and choose the session most needed.  Classes will be capped at 50 attendees.  Returning presenters are Ira Hammer, MBA and Michael Swerdlow, Ph.D.  For more information go to our website http://www.coalitionny.org/prof_learn_ctr/mti/index.html.

Each session will run from 9:00 AM to 12 Noon. Registration and a Continental Breakfast begin at 8:30 AM. All sessions will be held at the Coalition's offices located in lower Manhattan at 90 Broad St, 8th Fl. 

Fee:  $45 Members/ $75 Non-members per session, discount available for all six sessions.


Medicare Part D Breakfast

March 27, 2007 9:00am - 10:30am.  Learn about the latest changes to the Medicare Part D benefit and have an opportunity to discuss issues of concern to you and your clients.  A light breakfast will be served.  If you would like to attend, please contact Karyn Krampitz at kkrampitz@coalitionny.org 


Spring Forward!

Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 am on Sunday March 12.  Move your clocks forward one hour.

On Aug. 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Beginning in 2007, daylight-saving time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November, earlier than normal. For more trivia about daylight savings time go to California Energy Commission website http://www.energy.ca.gov/daylightsaving.html.



Membership Meeting March 22nd at 3:00 pm: Exploring Lower Cost Health Insurance Options

As the cost of health insurance increases year by year, our members are stymied by the prospect of providing insurance as a low cost benefit to their employees.  For over a year, at the urging of The Coalition’s Board of Directors, a small insurance committee has searched for creative ways to bring lower cost health insurance to membership.  After weeding through many proposals from insurance companies and listening to a number of presentations, we have selected two companies to speak to our members.

This presentation will take place on March 22, 2007 @ 3:00 pm at the Coalition’s Membership Meeting. Please note, that the membership meeting will begin a half hour earlier than regularly scheduled.

Please come with your financial people to learn how your agency could potentially save money on health insurance.        

This presentation is open ONLY to Coalition Members. To RSVP please contact Heather R. Mermel at hrmermel@coalitionny.org or by calling 212-742-1600 ext.109


Coalition Job Boards

Coalition Members advertise staff positions for free on The Coalition’s Job Board!  Here's a sample:

Job #  Job Title
2380 Counselor - PT

Peer Specialist

2363 PC Technician

Social Worker

2132 IPRT Director

We also have a job board for psychiatrists only.  APA members regularly look at this listing for potential hourly or per diem positions.

Job #  Job Title

Psychiatrist (PT Brooklyn)



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