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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
May 19, 2008

City Council Funding Requirements Are Set

Last week, the New York City Council issued new measures to assure transparency and prevent conflicts of interest in the disbursement of Council dollars.

The Coalition and other human services providers are emphatically supportive of Council discretionary funding. It is these monies that seed innovative projects, supplement contractual programming, and provide some flexibility for nonprofits in the delivery of service. Elected City Council members are knowledgeable about the needs in their communities and can direct modest funds to areas requiring assistance. In an environment where City contracting is highly bureaucratic, often inflexible and very slow to move the funding to the contracted agencies, City Council members provide necessary oversight for the Mayoral departments and direct tangible help for community based organizations. While supportive of initiatives that promote transparency and hinder conflicts of interest, we believe that discretionary funding by the City Council is one important exercise of the balance of powers in a democratic government.

Organizations seeking funding from the City Council must submit new pre-clearance documents by no later than Friday, May 23. The two new forms, 1) an Organizational Qualification Form (OQF) and 2) an Addendum to the OQF, must be filled out and submitted whether an agency has received or hope to receive City Council funding. Agencies will not be told if they have been selected for funding until the budget is adopted later this month.

All types of City Council funding, 1) Speaker Discretionary Funds, 2) Individual Council Member Discretionary Funds and 3) City Council Initiatives (including the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative and the Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative) are included in this requirement. Organizations that do not meet the May 23rd deadline will not receive Council funding.

Original hand signed and notarized documents should be hand delivered to Scott Crowley, NYC Council Finance Division; 250 Broadway, 15th Floor. Copies of all documents should be hand delivered to the sponsoring City Council member.

Coalition members, who seek clarification of the new requirements or related further information, should call Phillip Saperia at Extension 115 or email him at psaperia@coalitionny.org.


Reading Between the Lines

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery is organizing a major conference on the relationship between mental health and literacy in order to better support disconnected youth in NYC in their educational pursuits. This full-day event at NYU’s Kimmel Center, will feature a keynote address by Daniel J. Losen, J.D., M.Ed, who is affiliated with Harvard Law School and the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. Experts from community mental health, the department of education, the academy, and government will provide insight into the problem of literacy from multiple perspectives, including the impact of racism, trauma, and stigma on the learning process. Importantly, it will highlight resiliency in young people and will suggest advocacy efforts to combat shortfalls in the educational system. Afternoon workshops will provide opportunities for in-depth discussion, brain-storming, and the drafting of recommendations in specific areas related to education and mental health.  Register now at www.coalitionny.org/the_center/


IMA Demonstration of Practice Management and EMR Solutions

The Coalition will host a demonstration of IMA’s newest version of its behavioral health software application which includes a brand new "look" and an online electronic medical record (EMR).  You are invited to participate in an interactive demonstration of the IMA Desktop on June 19, 2008 at 1:30pm. Registration is required.

The IMA Application is designed for the management of behavioral healthcare organizations. It includes:

  • Practice Management - Registration, Scheduling, Client and Staff ID scanning, attendance and productivity reporting.
  • EMR (Electronic Medical Record) - online clinical documents, electronic signatures, and reference libraries.
  • Finance - Electronic billing, remittance, Managed Care authorizations, and full financial reporting

IMA is made exclusively to the unique requirements of NY State programs regulated by OMH, OASAS, and OMRDD. Its software may be used in programs like Article 31 clinics, Continuing Day Treatment Programs, Case Management, Residential Restorative Services, and PROS.


Mayor’s Executive Budget Cuts Mental Hygiene

May 1 marked the publication of the $59.1 million Executive Budget. The Mayor announced the end of booms in real estate and Wall Street and sought budget cuts to fill the gap in revenues.

In his Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG), the Mayor has targeted $1.8 million in cuts for mental hygiene contracts in FY ’09-FY ’11. Officials in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are determining how the cuts will be taken. Little information is available about the nature and extent of the cuts at this time, although Deputy Executive Commissioner, David Rosin, has said that he is looking to find savings in such a way as to “minimize the pain” to the community based sector. Administrative efficiencies and other revenues could help DOHMH meet its PEG targets. The Coalition has expressed its concern that cuts in program will result in diminishing services and resultant pain for recipients of those services.


Medicaid Update

The May 2008 edition of NYS Medicaid Update just came out.  Of interest in this issue are the following articles:

  • Welbutrin XL 300 mg. tablets require prior authorization under Medicaid Mandatory Generic Drug Program as of May 1, 2008
  • Medicaid Managed Care and SSI enrollees—providers should check the Medicaid Eligibility Verification System (MEVS) at each visit, or on the first and tenth of every month to determine Medicaid eligibility and managed care enrollment status
  • State Medicaid will require the submission of the National Provider Identifier (NPI) on all claims beginning September 1, 2008. [Additional important information about NPI requirements can be found at http://www.emedny.org/hipaa/npi/index.html]


Update on Medicaid Buy-in Work Group

Our Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery has disseminated a specialized survey to providers intended to capture key consumer demographic, benefits, and employment information. The survey will help us to more effectively target efforts to increase Medicaid Buy-in enrollment among mental health consumers in New York City. By the end of April, over 70 programs submitted responses, including Adolescent Skills Centers, Adult Clinics, Employment, Clubhouses, Continuing Day Treatment programs, Intensive Psychiatric Rehabilitation Treatment programs and Psychosocial Clubs.

Center staff are now in the process of analyzing data and will present findings at the May 20th meeting of the Medicaid Buy-in Work Group, held at The Coalition.  We hope the data will enable us to better understand how many New York City consumers, both employed as well as those considering employment, could potentially benefit from the Buy-in.  Thank you to all of the providers who took the time to assist us in this work.


Case Management Regulations—Where Are We Now?

On May 15, The House voted to include in its supplemental spending bill a moratorium on seven controversial Medicaid regulations, which would delay the rules' implementation until April 1, 2009. While The House approved an amendment containing the moratorium by a vote of 256-166, the supplemental package as a whole still must pass the Senate and avoid or override a promised veto by President Bush.

The Senate's supplemental spending package, approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 15, includes the Medicaid moratorium as well, and is expected to reach the Senate floor the week of May 19.

The Medicaid rules have drawn criticism from states and advocacy groups, including The Coalition. Also registering opposition has been a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including all Federal legislators from New York City. The House April 23 approved the bill (H.R. 5613) included in the supplemental package by a veto-proof margin.

The rules we oppose would reduce or prohibit Medicaid reimbursements for rehabilitation services and narrow Medicaid coverage for a variety of other services, including case management.


State OMIG Issues Work Plan

James G. Sheehan, NYS Medicaid Inspector General has announced the work plan for the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) for State Fiscal Year 2008-09.  This document is the agency’s first published plan, outlining the agency’s plan to assure that providers meet program quality standards for Medicaid enrollees “in a system free of waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments.”

The OMIG  is charged with “overseeing potential Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse activities of Medicaid-certified providers of all levels…” The work plan attempts to show the direction the OMIG will take to address these issues over the next 12 months. Mr. Sheehan came to a Coalition Membership Meeting in February where he spoke to members about his mission.


Center Leadership Trainings are a Success!

Once the Coalition’s Center advertised its leadership training series, all three modules quickly sold out. This speaks volumes about the demand for leadership development as agencies seek to improve their programs.  Participants were eager to learn how to align program elements with the value base of recovery. By the end of the series, they gained practical tools to help them achieve that organizational goal. Perhaps more importantly, participants gained experiential knowledge by participating in a growth-enhancing, learning environment. Several participants commented that they most appreciated the ‘interactive components’ of the training which helped them integrate the qualities and skills needed for effective leadership. Given the strong desire for these trainings the Center is committed to delivering them again. Visit our website at http://www.coalitionny.org/the_center/ for details on other upcoming Center trainings and events.


Around the Water Cooler


We welcome Ariel Zwang, who has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Safe Horizon, effective July 1, 2008. Ms. Zwang joins Safe Horizon from New York Cares where, as Executive Director for seven years, she built the organization into New York’s largest volunteer organization, mobilizing 40,000 volunteers each year to help nearly 400,000 New Yorkers in need of services. 

The Staten Island Mental Health Society received a $2 million “green grant” award from the New York State Capital Assistance Program to retrofit a vacant building at 44 St. Mark’s Place in St. George as a “green” children’s mental health center. The group needs to raise another $5 million to finish renovating the 13,000-square-foot structure. The building will have geothermal heating and a rooftop garden and will use rainwater for toilets.

Governor Paterson announced on May 1 the retention of Commissioners Hogan, Carpenter-Palombo and Ritter, who had been asked, along with all top government officials, to tender their resignations to the new Governor. The Coalition welcomes this sign of continuity in State government and continues to admire and work with the leaders of SOMH and OASAS to accomplish meaningful improvement in the delivery of behavioral health services.

Safe Horizon was awarded $88,000 in grants for the enhancement of Children Advocacy Centers (CACs) in Brooklyn and Queens. The grants were part of more than $1.15 million in grants announced by the Office of Children and Family Services to provide communities with increased resources to improve child safety.


National Council Recognizes Coalition Accomplishments

Patricia Gallo Goldstein and Phillip Saperia are shown in Boston in early May, receiving the National Council’s Grassroots Advocacy Award from Linda Rosenberg, CEO, along with Christopher Kennedy Lawford, another Council award recipient. The Coalition was recognized for its work to promote clinic rate reform in New York State.

Photo courtesy of National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.


Coalition Joins Partners to Sponsor Co-Occurring Disorders Conference

“Partners for Recovery: People First,” was the theme of the conference held in Albany May 14-16, co sponsored by The Coalition , the Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Providers of NYS (ASAP), the NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors and the New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. Joseph Baker, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services opened the event with the first keynote address. In the morning’s plenary session, SOMH Commissioner Michael Hogan and OASAS Commissioner, Karen Carpenter-Palombo outlined their visions for cross systems collaboration.

Peter Beitchman, ED of The Bridge, facilitated a town meeting response to the Commissioners that included participation of Dr. Grant Mitchel, Westchester County Commissioner of Community Mental Health and Dr. Evelyn Sanchez of VIP Community Services. Dr. Marlene Reil, Dual Recovery Coordinator of New York City outlined the City’s efforts to coordinate services for consumers who have co-occurring psychiatric and addictive disorders.

Conference speakers and presenters included Dr. Petros Levounis, Director of The Addiction Institute of New York and this year’s recipient of The Coalition’s Leadership Award. Also presenting from New York City and the metropolitan area were Ed Ross and Shelly Levy of The International Center for the Disabled, who presented assessment and treatment information about consumers who have suffered from traumatic brain injury. Christian Huygen, Director of Rainbow Heights Club joined his colleague, Christopher Murray in discussing the importance of cultural competence for LGBT consumers in the treatment of co-occurring disorders while Peter Yee, Assistant Executive Director of Hamilton Madison House joined Carlton Whitmore, from the NYC DOHMH Office of Consumer Affairs in explaining how cultural competence ensures the effectiveness of services to Asian and African American consumers. Carol Davidson of Samaritan Village outlined the special needs and challenges in the treatment of veterans.


State Board Training Consortium Offers Governance Training to Boards of SOMH Funding Recipients

Nonprofits receiving funding from OASAS, DOH, AIDS Institute and Center for Community Health, SOMH or OCFS are eligible to send their Board of Director members for training. Local trainings will be held on Long Island June 10 and in New York City June 11: “Recruiting, Developing & Retaining a Motivated Board of Directors”; “Duties and Responsibilities of a Nonprofit Board”; “Human Resource issues for Nonprofit Board Members”; “Human Resource Issues for Nonprofit Board Members”; Understanding Your legal Obligations as a Nonprofit Board Member”. For further information, call 800-515-5012, Ext. 126 or 121. SBTC Schedule for the Summer is now online. 


Coalition Job Boards

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

Job #  Job Title
5120 Senior Associate for Policy and Advocacy

Director of Development

5114 Intensive Case Manager

ACT Team Peer Specialist


Program Director, Transitional Residence for Veterans

5105 MICA Specialist/Social Worker



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