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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
April 22, 2008


State Budget Still in Partial Mystery

Although the State Budget passed in early April, the total impact on the mental hygiene sector is still somewhat unknown. Since the implementation of a 2.5% cut across the board to Aid to Localities and the 50% cut to new initiatives is in the hands of the Commissioners, the impact on counties, providers, programs and services is still not fully revealed. Furthermore, since State tax revenues depend on a somewhat tottering economy, even further changes to the budget could be instituted after the November elections.

The Coalition worked hard for and counts the following budget items as “wins” for our sector:

  • “Down Payment” on Article 31 clinic restructuring, including 1) a higher minimum payment for lowest paid clinics, 2) a rebasing of the COPS supplement, 3)the end of the COPS volume cap and 3) the removal of the “Medicaid Neutrality” rule which imposed arbitrary restrictions on the expansion of clinic services unrelated to demand for those services.
  • A third year of the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all non-Medicaid programs and the institution of three more years of COLA.
  • Increases for licensed residential programs and COLA for other housing programs.
  • $300,000 for increasing the rates of Children’s Day Treatment Programs that have struggled to serve severely challenged youth on very low rates for many years.
  • Beating back the proposal to include anti-depressants in the preferred drug list (PDL).

Other notable and potential impacts on programs and services include the conceptual moving of inpatient care dollars in hospitals to community based ambulatory care. This direction has precedent set by the mental health system with the adoption of Reinvestment in the early 1990s, closing inpatient psychiatric hospital beds and moving them to the community. The chemical dependency services sector awaits a significant reinvestment of expensive inpatient dollars into more efficient and cost effective community services.


Center’s Report on Youth in Transition featured at BU’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation “Innovations” Conference

Alysia Pascaris, Coalition’s Center Director, Amy Smiley, The Center’s consultant on the “Youth in Transition” project and Phillip Saperia, Coalition’s Executive Director represented The Coalition at BU’s “From Innovations to Practice” Conference on April 14th The Coalition’s delegation was invited to share the efforts of the Center’s Youth Initiative Work Group. These efforts are documented in our Report, A Change for Change: Supporting Youth in Transition in New York City. In the company of presenters from Europe, Africa, Asia, Canada and many states across the US, the Center’s poster publicized key findings and recommendations to address the numerous and complex barriers facing NYC youth and young adults with mental health and behavioral concerns. Over 800 leaders in our field attended the conference!


State Commits to Expand Eligibility for Child Health Plus


After a rebuff from the Bush Administration to New York State seeking Federal participation in raising income eligibility for Child Health Plus from 200 to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, the State has committed to use State funds to greatly expand health insurance for children in New York State.

Furthermore, NYS officials have joined a number of other states in a suit against the Feds seeking to strike down a rule which effectively prevents such an expansion of coverage for children. Maine, Maryland, New Jersey and Oklahoma were the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed several weeks ago in federal court in the District of Columbia. On April 16, New York State Department of Health filed to become an additional plaintiff, together with the Medicaid agencies for Kentucky and Tennessee.

 Apparently, the Bush Administration is seeking to protect private sector for-profit insurance providers, whom it fears will be hurt or “crowded out” by such an expansion of the public health care safety net. The outcome of the dispute is muddied somewhat by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruling that opposes the Administration’s attempt to hold down States’ expansion of health insurance for children. The ruling may slow down the Administration’s attempt to implement the new restrictive policy until after the elections.


House and Senate Seek to Reverse CMS Regulatory Attempts to Cut Back Access to Services—Administration Threatens Veto

Both Houses have passed legislation that would impose a one year moratorium on proposed regulatory changes and restrictions to Medicaid and CHIP. The Coalition and its members have been advocating for the moratorium on cuts that “would have a detrimental impact on vulnerable Medicaid beneficiaries, particularly children in foster care, individuals with physical or mental disabilities, substance abuse disorders and other chronic health conditions.”  In a letter to Hon. John Dingell, Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the chief sponsor of Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008, H.R. 5613, The Coalition expressed strong support and thanked him for his “leadership in seeking delay of these harmful Medicaid regulations……..”

Early this month, the Senate introduced its Economic Recovery in Health Care Act of 2008 that also would impose a one year moratorium on the CMS proposed regulatory changes. This bill was introduced by the bipartisan group of Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA).


Center Conference: READING BETWEEN THE LINES: Re-Thinking Mental Health and Literacy for Youth in Transition


The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery is proud to be presenting this groundbreaking and interdisciplinary conference on Monday, June 23rd, 2008, 9am-4pm at New York University’s Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South.

The goal of the conference is to investigate how to better reach New York City’s disconnected youth through education and mental health services. Presentations, discussions, and workshops will focus on:

  • The impact of systems on the learning process and their effect on a student’s sense of self and emotional and behavioral health
  • The importance of creating a productive learning atmosphere—either in public school or in a mental health setting—that approaches literacy and mental health as largely interconnected
  • Seeking ways to encourage youth in transition to adulthood to embrace as many opportunities as possible in their academic pursuits and beyond.

Go to our website for more information on presenters, agenda and registration: Conference information »


SOMH Public Forums on Children’s Mental Health Plan

The State will hold its annual public forums on mental health services, with a goal this year of creating a statewide children's mental health plan. The forums will be held in collaboration with the Mental Health Services Council and the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors. Commissioner Michael Hogan and Deputy Commissioner David Woodlock will provide an overview of a vision for children's mental health in New York. In so doing, they will highlight the planning process and recommendations drafted by the children's mental health planning work groups that have focused on the needs of children, youth and their families. The New York City forum is on May 8, 10:00 am to 3:30pm at Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus, Pope Auditorium, 155 West 60th Street.

Stakeholders will not be invited to testify. Instead, participants will be invited to submit a “Comment Card.” The Comment Cards are available at www.omh.state.ny.us. Those not able to attend the forums are also invited to send questions, ideas and thoughts by submitting a Comment Card.


Co-occurring Disorders Conference—Partners for Recovery: People First

Mark your calendars for May 14-16 for a landmark conference on co-occurring psychiatric and addictive disorders to be held in Albany. Co-sponsored by ASAP, The Conference of Local Mental HYGIENE Directors, the New York State Council for Behavioral Healthcare and The Coalition, leading speakers in the field will be presenting a host of seminars, panels and plenary sessions to discuss leading issues and practices in this important field. Ed Ross from International Center for the Disabled, Peter Yee from Hamilton-Madison House, Peter Beitchman from The Bridge and Christopher Huygen from Rainbow Heights Club are among the presenters. For more information and registration, go to www.asapnys.org. For overnighters, please note that you will be asked to download the Holiday Inn registration form and FAX it to them for hotel registration.


Welcome New Members

We are proud to extend a welcoming hand to new members: Greenwich House (Roy Leavitt, President and CEO), New Alternatives for Children (Arlene Goldsmith, Executive Director), S.A.G.E (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders—Michael Adams, Executive Director), and VidaCare (Doug Wirth, CEO). We are hoping for their vigorous participation in Coalition advocacy and program activities and learning opportunities.


Around the Water Cooler


As of June 2, Coalition member Steinway Child and Family Services will be moving to their new home at 22-15 43rd Avenue, Long Island City. Their telephone and FAX numbers will remain the same.

Coalition member Communilife seeks to sublet space at its 214 W. 29th Street (at 7th Ave.) headquarters, up to 3,000 square feet available, representing 4-5 offices and 4-6 cubicles. There is a private entrance and reception area, and a shared conference room and kitchen. The office has been newly renovated, and all utilities are included. For information, please contact: Karin Baere at 212-219-1618, ext. 6149.

City Voices, a 501(c)3 peer run and written newspaper in New York City seeks reasonably priced rental space. They would like most to be situated in neighborhoods with significant populations of people of color. Contact Dan Frey, Director, (347) 702-4164, www.nycvoices.org.

Melissa Mink has taken over for Tamara Hubinsky as the new Senior Director of Contracts for the Division of Mental Hygiene. Melissa has worked for DOHMH for four years, most recently serving as the Director of Claiming and was responsible for bringing in $1 billion in revenue for DOHMH. Previously, Melissa was the Assistant Director of Budget for Health Care Access and Improvement, Mental Hygiene, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology. She holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University.

Emil Slane, a highly regarded budget analyst in the New York State Division of the Budget is moving to SOMH where he will report to Martha Schaefer Hayes, Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Financial Management. He will replace Rick Tenenini, a good friend of the mental health sector, who unexpectedly passed away in the last year. Slane had responsibilities for mental hygiene issues in his former position at DOB. The Coalition welcomes him to SOMH and looks forward to future collaborations.


City Council Politics May Slow Down Already Slow Contracting Process and Deny Services


The media have been filled in the last week with reports of problems and controversy within the City Council regarding the expenditure of City Council member items and Speaker designated funds. Complicating the political machinations is the upcoming Mayoral race where it is expected that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will face off against Comptroller William Thompson, among others.

Troubling to community based providers is the possibility that City contracts funded by City Council dollars, already incredibly late in this fiscal year that ends June 30, may be further held up by the Comptroller’s office even as many programs and agencies have gone into debt to deliver the services based on the expressed promise of funding by the City Council and DOHMH. Where agencies were not able to find the resources to self-fund services to needy constituents, the political atmosphere and the potential holdup at the Comptroller’s office could deny vital services to New Yorkers who depend on them. The Coalition has long supported reforms to the DOHMH contracting system and to those parts of the City process that impinge on the issuance of contracts to worthy non-profit organizations.  We hope that the political differences in City government will not impede the flow of dollars to hard working non profit groups that provide vital services to people in every neighborhood of New York City.


Leadership Training Series: Building Recovery-based Programs

Date: April 23rd (sold out!), 30th and May 7th

Time: 1:00m - 4:00pm

Location: The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies

Facilitator: Aaron Vieira, LMSW Fee: $25 per session

Community mental health is facing a major leadership challenge. As agencies confront greater demands for quality and accountability, effective leaders are needed to guide the way towards improved performance. To help in this regard, the Center is launching this new series of highly dynamic leadership trainings designed for directors and managers who want to learn how to successfully build and sustain recovery-based programs. Participants will gain leadership skills that inspire creativity, collaboration and commitment. This will prepare them to lead organizational change efforts that enhance recovery practices and produce better outcomes for consumers.

1) Leadership Development — April 23rd, 2008

2) Building Effective Teams — April 30th, 2008

3) Implementing Recovery Best Practices — May 7th, 2008

Note to Registrants: To derive the full benefit of these trainings, you are strongly encouraged to participate in the full series; however, you may opt to register for only one or two of the trainings.

To register for these trainings, please click here: REGISTER NOW!»,or 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.

Measures to Support Addictions Services Moves in Congress


As mentioned in the last issue of Briefs, The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007 (H.R. 1424) passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March by a 268 to 148 vote, the first time since 1996 that the House passed parity legislation. The Coalition and a broad group of colleagues in advocacy have been working hard on federal parity.

The U.S. Senate passed the Second Chance Act of 2007 (H.R. 1593/S. 1060), a landmark piece of legislation that will begin to invest in reentry systems for people coming out of prison and jail and offer the services necessary to end the cycle of recidivism that traps too many. The Second Chance Act passed the House last year and therefore is on its way to the President for his signature. 

The Coalition welcomes these initiatives. Each of the bills is a hallmark in the struggle for sensible policies in addictions and criminal justice arenas.


Stellar Recipients Receive June 12 Leadership Awards

Held at Pfizer World Headquarters, The Coalition’s 39th Awards Reception will bring friends, members, allies and colleagues together to celebrate the behavioral health sector, its accomplishments and service. Receiving the coveted  Leadership Awards will be Deborah Bachrach, Deputy Commissioner of NYSDOH’s Office of Insurance Programs and State Medicaid Director; Petros Levounis, MD, Director and The Addiction Institute of New York and Alvin Perlmutter, noted film producer and Director of the Independent Production Fund. The Coalition will bestow its Founders Award on long time Coalition Board member from Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, Gayle DeRienzis. For Awards Reception information and registration, go to www.coalitionny.org.


Mark Your Calendar for The Center’s Upcoming Youth Initiative Events

During the month of May, The Center’s Youth Initiative will be hosting a special Work Group devoted to the problem of youth homelessness in New York City. On Friday May 16th, following two presentations - one by David Nish, Associate VP of Youth Programs at Safe Horizon and the other by James Bolas from the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services - we are planning an in-depth discussion and debate on this crucial problem. On May 30th, Amy Smiley, our Youth Project Manager, will facilitate our monthly Youth Seminar on Civic Engagement for Youth in Transition. Consistent with recommendations identified in our Report, A Chance for Change: Supporting Youth in Transition in New York City, participants will learn about ways in which they can support meaningful involvement of youth in community life.


Coalition Job Boards

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

Job #  Job Title
4955 Senior Associate for Policy and Advocacy

Director of Development

4911 Intensive Case Manager

Senior Housing Outreach Specialist


Social Worker, Therapeutic Foster Boarding Home

4786 Summer Workers Wanted



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