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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
October 30, 2008


Coalition Sponsoring Medicaid Conference on November 20 – Register Now!

The Coalition invites you to attend The Medicaid Crystal Ball: Behavioral Transformation in New York

on November 20 at HIP Headquarters in New York City from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. The conference will cover the impact of Medicaid rule changes, moratoria on regulations, and quality and compliance issues on community based behavioral health services in New York State.

Our keynote presentation will be delivered by Charles G. Curie, MA, ACSW, the former Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), called “Medicaid: Is It a Matter of Mission?”

Then New York responds, with speakers from State and City government: Michael Hogan, PhD, Commissioner of NYS OMH, Deborah Bachrach, JD, Medical Director of NYS DOH, and David A. Rosin, MD, Executive Deputy Commissioner, NYC DOHMH.

Afternoon presentations: “Medicaid Rule Changes and Moratoria: Impact on Community Behavioral Health Serves” with Jeffrey Crowley, MPH, Senior Research Scholar at Health Policy Institute, Georgetown University, and “New Horizons in Medicaid: Linking Quality of Care and Compliance” with Mary Thornton, BSRN, MBA, Principal of Mary Thornton Associates.   Register Now! »


Governor Paterson Announces Record $48B Budget Deficit for New York Over Next 4 Years

The Coalition is closely tracking state budget developments. Our latest update is on Governor David Paterson’s mid-year financial report given on Tuesday, October 28, 2008. According to Paterson, the State’s current financial picture is looking quite grim.

  • $1.5 billion budget deficit is now estimated for FY 2008-09
  • $12.5 billion budget deficit is now estimated for FY 2009-10
  • $47 billion budget deficit is now estimated over the next four years

Paterson will convene a special emergency legislative session on November 18 to cut an additional $2 billion from this year’s budget and aggressively attack future deficits. He is asking the Legislature to submit spending cuts to him before the beginning of the session and plans on releasing the 2009-10 Executive Budget on December 16; one month earlier than normal.

While the Governor is calling for cuts, his press conference did not include a discussion on alternatives to balance New York State’s budget, such as increasing revenues or tapping rainy day funds. Furthermore, the Governor announced his intention to balance the budget without raising taxes. If the State were to cut its way out of the $12.5B budget gap for FY 2009-10, it would be the equivalent of cutting 22% of the State’s general fund of $56.1B.


Coalition Joins ‘One New York Fighting For Fairness’ Citywide Coalition to Fight Budget Cuts

The Coalition is part of a newly formed citywide alliance to fight state and city budget cuts called One New York Fighting for Fairness. It currently consists of 90 organizations (and counting), and is made up of unions, nonprofits and service providers that offer services to many of New York’s most vulnerable citizens.

One New York Fighting for Fairness believes that city and state government must:

  • Protect New Yorkers by not cutting social services
  • Ensure a social safety net by avoiding across the board budget cuts
  • Increase certain critical components of our community safety net
  • Fairly address revenue options, not cut our way out of the economic downturn

Upcoming advocacy events include:

  • Ongoing vigils at City Hall, October 23rd  – November 21st
  • Press conference at City Hall on November 12th at 11 am
  • Rally and lobbying activities in Albany on November 18th

Bus service will be provided for anyone interested in attending the rally in Albany on November 18th, the same day that Governor Paterson is calling for a special emergency legislative session to address the State’s $2 billion deficit for this year. Please contact Jason Lippman at The Coalition at jlippman@coalitionny.org to reserve a spot on the bus. Lunch will be provided.


Federal Advocacy to Assist States in Financial Crisis

The Coalition and other advocates have been urging Congress to provide a temporary increase in the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) and a moratorium on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Outpatient Clinic or Upper Payment Limit (UPL) regulation. An increase to FMAP would increase New York State’s Federal share of Medicaid expenses, and implementation of the UPL would cost the State about $450M by aligning Medicaid fees and services for outpatient services with those offered by Medicare. We are hopeful that when Congress returns on November 17th – 21st for a lame-duck session, these actions can be passed, as well as a larger economic stimulus package.

New York State is aggressively pushing for a Federal economic stimulus package. Governor Paterson testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, October 29, 2008, stating that New York is at the epicenter of a national emergency from unprecedented turmoil on Wall Street due to failure of our national regulatory system. Twenty percent of New York’s state tax revenue is generated from Wall Street. In asserting that states need a Federal partner to help close budget deficits, Paterson asked Congress to pass an economic stimulus bill before it adjourns this year. In addition to other initiatives that the Governor thought should be included in the bill, he asked for a temporary increase to the FMAP of 5% through fiscal year 2011, and a moratorium on Federal regulations that harm state budgets, specifically the CMS Outpatient Hospital Clinic regulation.


Center Presents: Recovery-Oriented Connecting and Counseling

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

Recovery-Oriented Connecting and Counseling*
Date:         November 19th, 2008
Time:         9:30am - 1:00pm
Location:    The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies
Facilitator:  Amy Smiley, LCSW, PhD  |   Fee: $25

Registration begins at 9:00am. Light breakfast will be served.

Engagement and counseling skills constitute the foundation of therapeutic relationships, be they in formal clinical settings or in the context of focused service delivery, such as housing, case management or employment.  All mental health staff in direct care services working with consumers can benefit from this training designed to facilitate the recovery process.  This session will enable staff to gain an understanding of basic dynamics of the therapeutic alliance, increase interpersonal competencies and communications skills, improve engagement abilities, establish trust through active listening, and enhance approaches to working individually with people in recovery.

To register for this training, please visit the Center’s webpage at www.coalitionny.org/the_center. 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.


Around the Water Cooler

Coalition professional alumnus Josh Rubin and his wife Meredith became the proud parents of a baby girl. We wish them all great happiness. 

The Coalition attended an award ceremony on October 27, 2008 to honor Fred Scaglione, Editor and Co-Founder of New York Nonprofit Press. Fred received the 2008 Carroll Kowal Journalism Award for leadership in the coverage of social issues in New York City. We would like to congratulate him on such an achievement.

In an act of ironic and poetic justice, Norman Brier has been reappointed to his old position of Director of Financial and Strategic Planning at the NYS Office of Mental Health where he served from 1983-1996. One of the inventors of COPS and the current system of clinic rate methodology, Norm has been set to work on deconstructing the old system and providing leadership to the new and intense clinic rate reform project. The Coalition has had a fond personal and professional relationship with Norm and we welcome him back to the SOMH family.

Former SOMH General Counsel, legal adviser to the New York State Conference of Mental Hygiene Directors and treasured advisor to The Coalition and its member agencies, Peter Freed, was honored by the Conference. The fete was held in the War Room of the Capitol. County mental hygiene directors and representatives of government and the provider community, past and present, gathered to salute Peter. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Dan Still, former Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services.


Commissioner Frieden Announces New Roles at DOHMH

Dr. Tom Frieden, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced that effective November 3rd Dr. David Rosin will be assuming his new role as Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Adam Karpati will now serve as Executive Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Mental Hygiene.

We wish Dr. Rosin the best of luck in his new position and have greatly appreciated working with him over the last year. The Coalition also welcomes Dr. Karpati to the Division of Mental Hygiene and looks forward to having a strong working relationship with him. Dr. Karpati has been with DOHMH for 8 years. He is currently the Assistant Commissioner for the Brooklyn District Public Health Office (DPHO), where he implemented the newborn home visiting program and expanded it to include depression screening and referrals, as well as brief intervention for alcohol abuse. Under his leadership, the DPHO conducted assessments of mental health needs and services in local middle schools, promoted buprenorphine at local drug treatment programs and partnered with local syringe exchange programs.


The Coalition Reminds You to Vote on Tuesday November 4th

With only less than one week away from Election Day, we encourage you to vote on November 4th. Become an informed voter and learn where the candidates stand on behavioral health issues. The next President and members of Congress will be deciding whether behavioral health is part of any health reform proposal and determine funding for community based programs. For more information on candidate proposals and platforms, please go to Mental Health America or the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

We encourage you to help educate your consumers on their right not only to vote, but to voting accommodations. Extensive voting information is available through the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, whose site includes a printable Guide to the Voting Rights of People with Mental Disabilities. Useful information on polling centers and early voting is also available through the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).


2009 Medicare Part D Open Enrollment Period Starts November 15

The open enrollment period for 2009, the fourth year of Medicare’s Prescription Drug benefit program (Part D ), begins November 15, 2008.  We encourage you to help your dually-eligible (Medicare and Medicaid) consumers evaluate their plan options in 2009 and choose a plan that best fits their needs.

Next year, New York State will have 51 stand-alone prescription drug plans, 9 of which will be benchmark plans.  Benchmark plans have a $0 premium for those who qualify for a full low income subsidy which includes all dually eligible beneficiaries.

This is the one time of year when current beneficiaries may change plans and eligible individuals who have not previously enrolled in Part D may join a plan. Each year Part D plans are allowed to change their plan offerings and premiums, so it is important to check to see if the premiums have been raised, necessary medications are still covered and ensure that the plan is still participating.

Most importantly to avoid paying a premium, all consumers who are dual eligible need to ensure that their current Part D plan will remain a benchmark plan in 2009. The New York State Office of Mental Health has a great website page which lists the current NY benchmark PDPs and actions needed for 2009: http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/medicared/2009_benchmark.html

New York's 2009 Medicare Advantage and 51 stand-alone Part D plan listings are available to view on the CMS website.To access all 2009 Plan information, go to: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn/


Social Security Announces Nationwide Launch of Compassionate Allowances

The Coalition has learned that on October 27, 2008, Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced the national rollout of the agency’s Compassionate Allowances initiative. The program is a significant way to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that they obviously meet social security standards.

Social security launches this process with a total of 50 medical conditions. Over time, more diseases and conditions will be added. A list of the first 50 impairments (25 rare diseases and 25 cancers) can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances. Before announcing this initiative, Social Security held public hearings to receive information form experts on rare diseases and cancers. The agency also enlisted the assistance of the National Institutes of Health.

Compassionate Allowances is the second piece of the agency’s new system for certain disability claims. When once fully implemented and combined with the agency’s Quick Disability Determination process, Social Security estimates a six to nine percent of disability claims, the cases for as much as a quarter million people being decided in average of six to eight days.


New Website for Transition Age Youth Needs a Name

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery is developing an online resource guide designed for transition age youth with Severe Emotional Disturbances (SED) aged 16 to 25 in New York City. It will provide comprehensive information on available resources, services, programs and supports useful to disconnected youth across the five boroughs. Topic areas include Wellness, Employment, Housing, Education and more. Users will also be able to access critical information related to each of these topics, and share feedback on programs.  This site needs to be attractive to youth in many ways, and a catchy title is needed!  To that end, we would like title suggestions from youth in your programs. The winner will receive a prize and additional recognition.

  • We’re thinking of something no longer than 5 words (think shorter rather than longer)
  • Something that would translate well into a URL (internet web address)
  • And of course…BE CREATIVE!

We need to receive all proposed titles by Friday, November 7th, 5:00pm via email only.  Email Marc Kutner at mkutner@coalitionny.org. Include TITLE CONTEST in the email subject line. Please provide the contestant’s first name and last initial along with contact information at your agency, i.e. staff person’s name, phone number, email address, and agency/program affiliation, title, with each response.


Three Coalition Members Receive National Grants

The Coalition congratulates our member, the Institute Community Living’s (ICL) Project Aspire, which is operated conjointly with Coalition member, the Church Avenue Merchants Block Association (CAMBA), for receiving the Science to Service Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). The program was chosen for its successful utilization of evidence based treatment for people with serious mental illness who are homeless and have substance abuse issues.

The Coalition also congratulates our member, Project Renewal, for receiving a $3 million award to provide permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless adults who are in recovery from addiction. Funding for the grant is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Samaritan Bonus Grant Award, which gave $6M to OASAS this year. The grant will be shared equally between Project Renewal and Bowery Residents Committee and will help 80 individuals.


Center Trainings Filled to Capacity

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery has been busy delivering a wide range of trainings for agency staff across the city. All of these events have been filled to capacity, which shows that agency leaders are committed to maintaining a well trained workforce. Informal feedback and performance metrics have indicated that these trainings have been highly effective in transmitting valuable knowledge and fostering skill development. Not surprisingly, registration remains strong for future trainings. If you are interested in any upcoming training, we encourage you to visit our website at www.coalitionny.org/the_center/ and register soon. We hope to see you at our next training!


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5280 Residence Managers

Clerical/Peer Worker

5271 Case Managers

Supervising Social Worker


Intensive Case Manager

5258 Entitlements Specialist (P/T)



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