If you are unable to read this edition, please view it on our web site

The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Mental Health in New York
March 6, 2008


Coalition Offers Recommendations to City Council Regarding Continuity of Care

At a February 28th New York City Council oversight hearing regarding the response of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to individuals in psychiatric crisis, the Coalition offered several recommendations to the Council that would improve continuity of care for mental health consumers transitioning between the inpatient and outpatient systems.  Among the recommendations were:

  • Additional ACT teams, jointly funded by the State and the City, to ensure adequate level of care for high-service need consumers being discharged from hospitalization.
  • More seamless transition for consumers between hospitalization and entry to an intensive or supportive case management team.
  • “Step-down” levels of care for persons who are no longer in need of hospitalization but who require ongoing care beyond that which can be offered in most outpatient settings. This setting could also serve as a “safe space” for persons who are acting erratically but do not necessarily meet all of the conditions that would require hospitalization.
  • Training for police officers that includes shadowing a mobile crisis unit with the goal of gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the psychiatric side of working with persons in crisis.


The Coalition emphasized that each day, tens of thousands of New Yorkers living with serious psychiatric disorders lead fulfilling and productive lives filled with friends and family, work and school, programs and rehabilitation, and do not require emergency services. 


Coalition Members Bring Advocacy to Albany

On February 12th, Coalition staff and members walked the corridors of power in Albany to ask the legislature to:

•Support the behavioral health initiatives included in the Governor’s proposed budNY State Senator Morahan Coalition Membersget for SFY 2008-2009;

•Increase funding for children’s day treatment programs;

•Add funding for employment initiatives in clubhouses and psycho-social clubs;

•Invest in outpatient detoxification;

•Add funding for geriatric mental health projects;

•Re-open the grandparenting clause for social work licensure;

•Expand parity law to include individuals enrolled in Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus, and extend benefits to New Yorkers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Coalition delegation included officers and member from a diverse group of agencies. 


New York State Office of Mental Health Releases Proposed Rule to Eliminate the “Medicaid Neutrality” Cap


On February 27, the Office of Mental Health released a proposed rule in the New York State Registry that would eliminate the Medicaid cap to facilitate the growth of new or expanded outpatient programs. Providers interested in obtaining new clinic licenses or expanding existing clinics will still need to submit a PAR application demonstrating unmet needs, but would no longer need to show how the local share of Medicaid would be paid. This initiative was included in the Governor’s SFY 2008-2009 Executive Budget proposal as part of the initial steps towards clinic reform.

For additional information on the proposed rule, please contact Joyce Donohue, OMH, at (518) 474-1331 or email at cocbjdd@omh.state.ny.us 


New CMS Regulations Pose Significant Threat to Case Management Design and Funding

On December 4, CMS proposed regulations that would significantly change how case management services are delivered under Medicaid. Specifically, they would implement a more restrictive definition of billable services, affect services provided to institutionalized individuals and create a fee-for-service structure.  The Coalition urged CMS to revise the interim final rule so that it complies with the statutorily-enacted provisions of the DRA. The Coalition relayed our concerns to CMS on their proposed changes to case management regulations.

In addition to our letter and those sent in by many of our member agencies, the Coalition is involved in two other advocacy areas regarding the proposed CMS regulations.

In partnership with our colleagues from around the country, the Coalition is calling for a delay in the implementation of new CMS regulations that would significantly restrict federal support for case management under Medicaid. Within the past year CMS has issued other regulations that will affect rehabilitative and school-based services.

If your organization would like to join the Coalition, the  National Council for Community Behavioral Health Care, the Alliance for Children and Families, and United Neighborhood Centers for America in this advocacy effort, please review the attached letter and contact Varina Winder, Policy Analyst at the Alliance for Children and Families, at (202) 409-0400 ext. 16, or vwinder@alliance1.org

In addition, the Coalition is supporting Congressional efforts to delay the implementation of CMS’s proposed regulations. We are closely monitoring:

  • The passage of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act reauthorization bill (S 1200) that would place a moratorium on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule on case management and targeted case management services; and
  • HR 5173 and S 2578 that would prohibit the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from taking any action to implement changes to case management that are more restrictive than current case management definitions under title XIX of the Social Security Act. All 2007 payment policies and practices relating to case management would remain in effect until April 1, 2009

 We would like to thank Senators Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer and Representative Edolphus Towns for signing on as cosponsors of the legislation.


New Law Will Limit Placement of Prisoners with Serious Mental Illness into Solitary Confinement

After years of dogged determination and countless postcard campaigns, rallies, and meetings with legislators on both sides of the aisle, mental health advocates, consumers and family members rejoiced when Governor Spitzer signed legislation in January that will limit the placement of prisoners with serous mental illness into “special housing units”, or the SHU.  It was well-documented that placing someone with major psychiatric impairments into solitary confinement for weeks or months at a time only served to exacerbate the symptoms, in some cases leading to an increased risk of suicide.


Center Presents: Ask the Expert & Dealing with Overpayment Blues

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery will be presenting the following training:

Ask the Expert & Dealing with Overpayment Blues* - This full day training facilitated by Edwin Lopez-Soto, Esq., nationally recognized benefits expert, will include updates on legislative and policy changes relevant to benefits management.  Participants will have the opportunity to pose related questions drawn from their work, allowing for both expert guidance and input from colleagues.  The training focus will be on the most effective ways to respond to overpayments and advocate on behalf of your clients.  Participants will walk through the process of completing a “waiver of overpayment” questionnaire and will be given valuable tips about how to navigate the Social Security bureaucracy.

Date:            March 14th, 2008

Time:            9:30am - 4:30pm

Location:      The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies

Facilitator:     Ed Lopez, Esq. | Fee: $25

To register for this training, please visit the Center’s webpage at www.coalitionny.org/ccrr. Space is limited, so we encourage you to register yourself or your staff as soon as possible.

* All Center trainings qualify for credit hours toward the Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) credential.


Center holds Youth Initiative Work Group on Strengthening the Connection between Community Mental Health and Child Welfare

In keeping with the Youth Initiative Work Group’s commitment to promoting inter-systems collaboration, a special session on Strengthening the Connection between Community Mental Health and Child Welfare was held on February 13th to both enhance knowledge of specific endeavors related to this theme and brainstorm about other prospects of collaboration.  

Key presenters from ACS discussed services and programs that engage adolescents and young adults, namely: Helen Panagopoulos, Senior Policy Analyst at the Office of Clinical Policy; Dominique Jones, Assistant Commissioner at the Office of Youth Development; Harriet Nieves, Director of the Teen-Age Services Act; and Laura White, Deputy Director of the Office of Community Partnerships.  

Further, presenters from the Foster Care Services Project—emanating from a collaborative effort involving the Coalition and our member agencies, as well as the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies and ACS—discussed their trauma-based treatment approach to working with youth involved with child welfare. Mary Dino, Project Coordinator, JBFCS; Jackie McKeon, Director of Health Services, Good Shepherd; and Robert Cizma, Vice-President, Jewish Child Care Association, all presented on the Project. 


DamesReid LLC and Kasirer Consulting LLC Join Forces

DamesReid LLC, which has long provided strategic planning and lobbying for the Coalition in Albany and in New York City, recently announced a partnership with the firm of Kasirer Consulting, LLC that will provide enhanced services for their not-for-profit clients.  The Coalition congratulates Cynthia Dames, Lisa Reid and Suri Kasirer for their partnership and looks forward to benefiting from their years of combined experience and expertise both in Albany and here in the City.


Coalition to Host Presentation on the Implications of the CMS Case Management Regulations

On March 13th, Bill Martin, the former legal counsel for DOHMH, will discuss CMS’s proposed changes to existing case management regulations. These proposed changes will have a dramatic impact on how services are delivered by intensive and supportive case management teams in New York State. Mr. Martin will give an in-depth review and analysis of the regulations and will explore the consequences for providers. Furthermore, he will provide guidance on how to prepare for them in terms of documentation and billing.

This session will be held on March 13th at 2:00 pm, located at the Coalition's offices at 90 Broad St, 8th Fl.  Register Here or go to our website www.coalitionny.org and click on the front page link.


Center Presents Benefits Training Across NYC

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery will be presenting Introduction to Benefits Management* - A half-day training offered in various locations across the city designed for clinicians and other staff new to benefits. This training will help staff understand the fundamentals of the Social Security System, comprehend the difference between SSI, SSDI, Medicaid and Medicare, and gain knowledge of resources that support consumers in their living and working goals. Fee: None

  • Thursday, March 13th – Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, 1 – 4pm
  • Thursday, March 20th – The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, 1 – 4pm Sold Out
  • Friday, March 28th – Howie T. Harp Peer Advocacy Center, 1 – 4pm Sold Out

To register for this training, please visit the Center’s webpage at www.coalitionny.org/ccrr. Space is limited, so we encourage you to register yourself or your staff as soon as possible.

* All Center trainings qualify for credit hours toward the Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) credential.


Center “Delights” Consumers!

Thirty mental health consumers working and living in New York City obtained free tax filing services thanks to a collaboration between the Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery and Seedco, a nonprofit organization that “creates economic opportunities” for low income individuals and families.  The collaboration successfully helped to alleviate the fears and concerns too often felt by working people with disabilities who are receiving social security benefits and need to file a tax return.  Many of the consumers are expected to receive Federal Earned Income Tax Credits. “Clients were delighted to receive this service and are really looking forward to their tax refund!” noted a staff person from F.E.G.S.


Around the water cooler…

Hail and Farewell Michael Polenberg

It is bittersweet news I convey when I tell you that Michael Polenberg, our multi-talented and much admired Director of Policy and Advocacy, will be leaving The Coalition to become Vice President of Government Relations of Safe Horizon. It is yet another testimony to the credo that good work gets recognized and rewarded. Michael has been an invaluable asset to The Coalition’s advocacy staff and the whole team, both members and staff, for nearly five years. We will miss him sorely, but wish him great success in his new endeavors. - Phillip A. Saperia, Executive Director


Coalition Job Boards

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

Job #  Job Title
4440 CASAC - Case Managers

Training/Floating Social Worker

4475 Supportive Case Manager

Masters Degreed, Bilingual Case Managers


Network Analyst




The Coalition Home | Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery | Coalition Briefs | Advocate for Mental Health | Policy Positions
Professional Learning Center | Member Agencies | Jobs | Calendar | Links

About Us | Site Index | Contact Us | Donate

If you would like to be removed from our mailing list, or if you would prefer to receive Briefs via fax,
please reply to this e-mail. Comments and suggestions may be directed to mpolenberg@coalition.org

90 Broad Street, 8th floor, New York, NY 10004
Tel: (212) 742-1600     Fax: (212) 742-2080