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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
December 23, 2008


Governor Paterson Releases NYS 2009-10 Executive Budget

On December 16, 2008 Coalition staff and government relations consultants visited Albany for the announcement of Governor Paterson’s 2009-10 Executive budget which proposes measures to help close New York State’s $15.4 billion budget deficit.

At a budget briefing held by the Office of Mental Health (OMH), administrative officials outlined various new budget balancing initiatives. While a portion of the cuts proposed will come from OMH’s plan to restructure the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SOMTA) program by curbing $14.3 million in spending growth, as well as an internal redirection of $4.4 million from hospital wards to more appropriate community residential settings from the closure of 400 inpatient beds, proposed cuts to many community-based mental health programs in fiscal year 2009-10 will appear in the form of funding “delays” and “restructuring” efforts.  $8.6 million in new supported housing development funding will be “frozen.” This does not include New York/New York III allocations. Components of the SHU bill will be put off causing $8.6 million in funding delays for new prison mental health programs. Continuing Day Treatment programs will be undergoing cuts to reimbursement rates and program changes.

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) announced that it will be closing the Manhattan Addiction Center on April 1, 2009, eliminating 52 beds and $4.4 million in State funding. School-Operated Prevention Services, which are allocated to the New York City Department of Education, will be reduced $10 million; however $8 million will be reinvested into community-based programming. Residential Rehabilitation Services for Youth (Part 817 model) conversion will be delayed for one year, equaling a $3.4 million cut in 2009-10. In addition, OASAS will save a total of $6 million dollars through marginal cuts to a selection of “under performing” drug and vocational rehab programs, and various inpatient and outpatient chemical dependency services.

Effective January 1, 2009, both OMH and OASAS will reduce previously approved human services cost of living adjustments for community-based providers. The COLA will be cut from 3.2% to 2.2% for the remainder of 2008-09 and eliminated in 2009-10. Both budgets allocate COLA funding in 2010-11 through 2012-13, one year longer then before. Total COLA savings between the two agencies will amount to $94.9 million. More budget details to follow as The Coalition analyzes and gathers more information about next year’s budget proposals for behavioral health funding.


Bloomberg Asks for More Cuts Too!

On December 9 2008, the Office of Management and Budget called on City agencies to submit plans for how they would reduce an additional 7% in City funds in fiscal year 2010. If implemented, this would amount to a $1.4 billion cut citywide. These reductions would be on top of the 2.5% cut in fiscal year 2009 and 5% cut in fiscal year 2010, which were proposed by the Bloomberg Administration back in November. On December 18, 2008, the City Council approved an enhanced revenue raising package, which rescinds the 7% property tax reduction and levies a temporary 0.875% hotel tax increase. Combined, the two initiatives will bring in $650 million to help close New York City’s total budget deficit of $4 billion in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

The first round of cuts proposed this year impacted the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) budget by a $10.3M reduction in FY 2009 and $18.2 in FY 2010. As part of the Mayor’s fiscal year 2010 November financial plan, DOHMH plans to reduce funding to contracted behavioral health providers by $2.7 million. The Coalition has formally asked the Department for detailed information on how they plan to achieve these cuts. We will continue to keep you informed on how all cuts will impact behavioral health funding at DOHMH.


Advocacy Update: One New York Fighting for Fairness

The Coalition participates in meetings and actions of the One New York Fighting for Fairness coalition. One New York is a coalition of 200 organizations from the human service and labor sectors, which came together to fight proposed budget cuts to vital programs and services (including behavioral health) and offer fair revenue alternatives.

One New York plans to continue its advocacy in support of progressive revenue measures, including a permanent increase in the income tax on the State’s highest earners. The New York Times has reported that Governor Paterson may be leaning towards raising taxes on wealthy New Yorkers. Any increase in revenue would minimize the amount of spending cuts needed to balance the State (and City) budget. We will keep you updated on future One New York advocacy events.


Obama’s Team Focuses on Economic Stimulus and Health Care Reform

The Obama team is now talking about an economic stimulus plan that could be up to $800 billion. Congress may even expand this figure when it returns on January 6 to work on passing a stimulus package bill to be signed by President Obama after inauguration day on January 20. The Coalition anticipates that the economic stimulus plan will include aid to states in the form of an increase in the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP). An increase to FMAP will enlarge New York State’s Federal share of Medicaid expenses. The Coalition will continue to advance the issue of an FMAP increase as well as a regulatory reform agenda that includes a moratorium on the CMS Outpatient Hospital Rule. Currently 6 other CMS regulations that would be harmful to community providers are in moratorium until April 2009. We are hopeful for withdrawal or extension of these.

Although Obama will be focusing on the economy immediately after taking office, he has asserted that health care reform will be an integral priority in his economic recovery and reform plan. On December 11, 2008 he named former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Director of the new Office of Health Care Reform. Secretary-Designee Daschle is inviting people to host Health Care Community Discussions. By clicking on President-Elect Obama's website you can sign up to lead a Health Care Community Discussion in your home, community center, or even a local coffee shop, anytime until December 31. This is a good opportunity for community stakeholders to bring mental health and substance abuse issues to the forefront of the incoming administration.


Coalition Offers Mental Health Parity Training

The Coalition is delighted to have healthcare attorney Robert Belfort, JD, from Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, return to the Coalition to summarize the new Mental Health Parity law.  Mr. Belfort was the attorney who assisted in drafting some of the bill language on behalf of the APA. 

Monday, January 12, 2009 9:30am - 11:30am  Register Now!

Key topics covered will include:  The scope of the parity requirement -- which third-party payors are obligated to provide parity; how parity is defined under the law; the right of payors to manage mental health benefits; how the Federal parity law interacts with New York's parity and mental health benefit mandate laws; and what the law will mean for mental health providers in New York.


Notable Committee Chair Changes in the House of Representatives

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on December 10, 2008 that the Democratic Steering Committee nominated and the full Democratic Caucus approved the appointment of Congressman Edolphus Towns, of the 10th District in New York (Brooklyn), as the Chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The previous Chair, Congressman Henry Waxman, recently won chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees legislation for public health initiatives including behavioral health. The Coalition congratulates Congressmen Towns and Waxman on their new committee chairmanships.


The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery will be presenting a training from the Benefits Series:

Benefits Management for Individuals with Criminal Justice Involvement

Date:           January 13, 2009
Time:          9:30am - 4:30pm
Location:     The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies
Facilitators:  Ed Lopez, Esq. and David Clinton ï Fee: $25

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

This highly interactive full day training will include updates on legislative and policy changes relevant to benefits management. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss their current cases, allowing for both expert guidance and input from colleagues. Participants will also learn how to address the special needs of consumers involved with the criminal justice system. An emphasis will be placed on coordinating care with other service providers, and methods to promote consumer independence in the community.

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

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


Around the Water Cooler

The Coalition congratulates Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, who was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg as the next Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Aging (DFTA). Since 2004, Lilliam has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Safe Space, a Coalition member and a member of The Coalition Board of Director.  We wish her great success and look forward to more collaboration.  

Alan D. Goodman, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service (BBCS), a Coalition member, writes about how non-profit organizations and working poor will bear the brunt of budget cuts to social services in the current edition Brooklyn Progress.

After 7 years of devoted service, The Coalition bids adieu to Alysia Pascaris, our Director of the Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery. At our holiday party this year Coalition members and staff spoke about her achievements and the pride they felt to work with Alysia. We wish her good luck in her future and look forward to future collaborations.


4 Coalition Members Receive Grants for Housing and Substance Abuse Services

The Coalition congratulates three of our members who were awarded grants to fund homeless housing projects and related supported services in New York State from the Office of Temporary and Disability Services (OTDA). A sum of about $10 million was awarded to The Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, Project Hospitality, Inc. and The Bridge, Inc.  to fund 79 units or 145 beds. In total OTDA will award $33 million to 14 organizations to create 340 housing units and 447 beds for families and individuals in New York State.

The Coalition also congratulates our member the Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) for being awarded a $10,000 grant from TD Bank to offer substance abuse services to families in which teenagers who are at risk or already abusing alcohol or drugs. The funds will support SIMHS’s two Teen Center locations in St. George and Great Kills and teach parents effective and evidence-based family treatment techniques.


Third Annual Mental Health Peer Specialist Conference Issues Call for Proposals

The Peer Specialist conference planning committee, which includes The Coalition and member agency F.E.G.S. Health and Human Services System, is currently seeking proposals for the Third Annual Peer Specialist Conference in New York City during June of 2009 (location TBD). This conference provides an opportunity for working peers to gain knowledge and skills, augment career advancement and create greater balance and harmony in their lives, and the lives of the people they serve. The audience for this conference will be Peer Specialists, Peer Advocates, Peer Bridgers, Peer Counselors, Peer Educators, Peer Providers and Peer Recovery Facilitators.

We encourage submissions from working peers who can provide insight on the future development of the role of peers in the workplace. All workshops are 75 minutes long. We invite abstracts that reflect national, statewide and local innovative programs, practices and initiatives that support the future development of the peer workforce. Examples include, but are not limited to our seven tracks: health and wellness, career development, workforce challenges, systems transformation, new and innovative recovery-oriented practices, cultural competence and natural supports.

Abstracts will be evaluated on the following criteria: consistency with and relevance to the theme of the conference, originality and innovation, clarity in description of subject matter and broad implications across peer workforce experience. Abstracts must be submitted by mail, fax or e-mail to: The New York State Office of Mental Health, 330 Fifth Ave. 9th floor, New York, N.Y. 10001, Attn: Carmelita Thompson, Fax 212-330-6359, E-mail: cocbcet@omh.state.ny.us or Celia Brown, E-mail: oncsceb@omh.state.ny.us . Submission deadline is Monday January 5, 2009. More information and submission form.


The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery will be presenting a training from the Leadership Series

Leading the Way to Recovery

Date:          January 15, 2009
Time:         9:30am - 12:30pm
Location:    The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies
Facilitator:  Marie Sabatino ï Fee: $25

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

This highly dynamic half-day training is designed for mental health providers interested in exploring innovative approaches for building leadership skills that promote recovery values. Participants will learn key elements of leadership. The training will explore communication tools directed toward change. Storytelling will be used as one approach to identify common values, improve interpersonal skills, and inspire meaningful changes within people in recovery, providers, and program cultures. Real world examples of how personal narratives can spark recovery will be included in this training. Peer-providers are encouraged to attend.  

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

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


OMH and DOH Partner to Improve the Quality and Safety of Psychotropic Treatment

The following is an edited summary of a Briefs article submitted by the staff in the Bureau of Evidence Based Services and Implementation Science at the Office of Mental Health, headed by Molly Finnerty. For the full text, please click here.

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) are collaborating on a new quality improvement initiative to improve the quality and safety of prescribing psychotropic medication for people on Medicaid. This initiative is in response to studies documenting the role of select atypical antipsychotics in contributing to the high rates of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders among people with serious mental illness. According to The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), people with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than the general population. A contributing factor is that this population has higher rates of cardio-metabolic risk factors but low rates of treatment.

OMH and DOH have established a Stakeholder’s Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from The Coalition and various mental health advocates and organizations. OMH is also working closely with the newly established Evidence-Based Practices Technical Assistance Center (EBP TAC) of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, in order to provide high quality support to this project. Throughout New York State, 348 community and State-operated mental health clinics are implementing this initiative. Statewide training is currently underway and due to be completed by December 2008. Indicative of the program’s momentum, 92% of eligible clinics have volunteered to participate.

The central vehicle driving the initiative is the Psychiatric Services and Clinical Knowledge Enhancement System (PSYCKES), an award-winning web-based computer program which makes clinical use of the wealth of information housed in Medicaid data bases. OMH designed this program and has a website dedicated to it. They also have presented on this program to Coalition members. For more information about this quality improvement initiative and PSYCKES, please visit the PSYCKES homepage at: https://psyckesmedicaid.omh.state.ny.us/.


Techniques of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Training

The Coalition is pleased to have Dr. Andrew Tatarsky, PhD  return to introduce his Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy.  IHRD is a an approach to effective treatment approach of substance for patients that can be integrated into many different treatment modalities and settings.  It is based on a multifaceted view of problem substance use as reflecting the interplay of biology, personal and interpersonal dynamics and social context. This course is eligible for CASAC CEU credits.

Friday, January 9, 2009, 9:00am - 12 Noon  For more information and registration »  


 RAND Issues Guide on Employing Mental Health Consumer Providers

 Mental Health Consumer Providers: A Guide for Clinical Staff is a manual produced by RAND Corporation to help clinical staff implement and sustain a consumer provider program. The guide is intended to be an easy-to-use reference for agencies that wish to hire or strengthen and expand consumer involvement. It is also intended for consumers who are interested in applying for consumer provider (CP) positions.

Mental Health consumer providers are individuals with serious mental illness who are trained to provide recovery-oriented services and support to other individuals. There are several demonstrated benefits to employing CPs. They can serve as a voice for consumers in brokering their needs, provide information, motivation and mentoring, and serve as role models. CPs can assist clients with support services like skills assistance and transportation, liaison services, dispel possible stigma or bias toward consumers and augment an overburdened mental health system. Despite such benefits, there can also be challenges barriers to employing CPs. These challenges include staff concerns, organizational issues and perceived misconceptions about abilities and competency. The full document can be accessed at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/2008/RAND_TR584.pdf.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5321 Director of Outpatient Mental Health Services

Supportive Case Manager

5313 Clinical Supervisors

House Case Manager


ACT Team Peer Specialist

5285 Director, Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery



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