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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 20, 2009


The Coalition will celebrate its 25th Annual Awards Reception on June 25, 2009 at Pfizer World Headquarters located at 235 East 42nd Street in New York City.

Among the individuals receiving the coveted Leadership Awards this year are the Honorable David A. Paterson, Governor, New York State; Honorable Peter M. Rivera, Chair, Committee on Mental Health, New York State Assembly; Honorable G. Oliver Koppell, Chair, Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, New York City Council.

The reception will start at 5:00 pm with the presentation of awards at 6:30 pm. Join us at our key fundraising event with leaders in government, behavioral health, the corporate and civic communities as we bestow our leadership awards.

To buy tickets or advertise in our commemorative journal, visit our website, www.coalitionny.org for more details. We look forward to seeing you on June 25th.


Federal Stimulus Dollars for Community-based Behavioral Health Providers?

This edition of Coalition Briefs highlights Federal stimulus funding opportunities to boost behavioral health services during the economic crisis. On February 17th, 2009 President Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus package under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and much of it has yet to be distributed. With money coming from different pots: local, state and federal; it can be unclear as to how much each one is allocating to specific economic recovery projects. Key programs that can be accessed by the community based behavioral health sector include Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP), The Strengthening Community Fund, as well as the potential availability of Health Information Technology (HIT), and Educational and Employment Opportunities for people with mental health disabilities. The Coalition has compiled useful resources to learn more about the stimulus programs in place for New York State and City, and how to access them. Please read the featured articles below for more information.


Health Information Technology Funding (HIT)

The Coalition, along with our national partners, has been advocating for the Federal government to explicitly designate a portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) $19 billion investment in health information technology (HIT) to the community-based behavioral health sector. Although the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be establishing a grant program for states to facilitate and expand the use of electronic health information, the legislation did not direct allocations for community-based behavioral health providers. The HIT program will utilize nationally recognized standards, provide financial incentives for physicians and hospitals to adopt electronic health records and list the criteria for Medicaid and Medicare incentives (i.e. nonhospital-based professionals who have at least 30% patient volume from Medicaid). It is critical for the viability of the community-based behavioral health sector that providers be able to make use of HIT funding opportunities. We will keep you informed on how to gain access to potential funding. A free, three-part webinar by the American Medical Association (AMA) on applying for HIT funding begins on Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 12 pm.


Homeless Prevention & Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP)

Coalition staff attended a special meeting of the New York City Coalition on the Continuum of Care (CCoC), a collaboration of organizations from government, providers and consumers that distributes HUD funding in New York City, where the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) presented their draft allocation plan on HPRP funding. New York City has been awarded $73.9M over 3 years from HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Funding will be made available to programs that have existing contracts with DHS & sister City agencies. HPRP funding can be used to fund programs that fall into the following categories:

1) Financial Assistance, 2) Housing Relocation & Stabilization, 3) Data Collection/Evaluation and 3) Administrative Costs. Eligible programs include home-based and anti-eviction legal services. HPRP funding may not be used for moving assistance, operating costs, permanent housing or shelters.

The Continuum has since drafted a letter of recommendation to HUD on areas to allocate HPRP funding. Included in this request was an initiative to subcontract HPRP funds to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to augment expiring and underfunded eviction prevention legal service contracts for people with psychiatric disabilities. Grantees eligible to receive HPRP funds would be required to complete a substantial amendment to their Consolidated Plan 2008 Action Plan with the Federal government. All HPRP funding must be obligated by September 30, 2009, of which 60% must be spent within the first 2 years and the full amount in 3 years. HUD will also be sponsoring a regional training conference in New York City on June 23rd and 24th. To register for this session, please access the HPRP Conference Registration site at http://registration.hudhre.info/hprp/training.nsf. The agenda and FAQs are also available on the registration site. We will be able to provide you with more information after The Coalition attends the next DHS briefing with the Continuum of Care in July, after HUD has approved DHS’ final plan.


Education & Employment for Individuals with Mental Health Disabilities

The Coalition has learned that the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) is engaging in discussions with the NYS Department of Labor (DOL) to set aside $1 million in Federal stimulus dollars to subsidize tuition costs for approximately 200 individuals with mental health disabilities who are interested in working in the mental health field. This program intends to work with community providers that can identify individuals with mental health disabilities who want to work in the mental health field, and have policies in place whereby individuals who enroll in the program can interview for a job and be guaranteed a position of employment upon successful completion of the program. Mental health providers will be encouraged to offer on-the-job training programs for individuals still in school in order to provide opportunities to gain experience and increase success after graduation. Participating colleges must be linked to the SUNY system and offer support services for students with disabilities. Agencies with interested candidates should refer all questions and comments to Lorraine Washington at OMH by May 22, 2009 at (518) 473 - 6579 and coralxj@omh.state.ny.us.


The Strengthening Communities Fund

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make available a total of $50 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding (ARRA) to help communities severely affected by the economic downturn. The Strengthening Communities Fund is a partnership between HHS and private and public organizations to provide one-time, two year grants to nonprofit organizations. This initiative will focus on programs addressing the broad economic recovery issues present in their communities. Examples include assisting low-income individuals secure and retain employment, earn higher wages, obtain better-quality jobs, and gain greater access to state and Federal benefits and tax credits, including ARRA benefits.

As part of the Strengthening Communities Fund, the Non-Profit Capacity-Building Program will provide grants to eligible non-profit and faith-based organizations whose mission is to assist families in communities experiencing economic distress. Lead organizations will assist non-profit providers, also known as project partners, in capacity-building training, technical assistance, and competitive financial assistance. HHS’s Administration for Children and Families will be the entity administering this program. Potential organizations interested in applying for funds should visit: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/scf/index.html to learn about this grant opportunity and to find resources for prospective grantees.


Useful Websites on Stimulus Funding

The Coalition has compiled a number of useful resources on the stimulus programs in place for New York State and City, and how to access them. To learn more, please visit the links listed below.

 At the Federal level, the Obama Administration has created a website outlining the implementation of the stimulus plan. Various Federal agencies have posted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) information on their websites. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lists their plans for spending, reporting, auditing and investigation of fraud and abuse of Recovery funds. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) describes the principles and strategies that will guide the distribution and implementation of ARRA funds appropriated to the agency, the components of the funding and provide updated grant information. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will routinely provide information on the implementation of HUD ARRA funding on their website.

New York State’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) website has been recently updated with a new funding opportunities section. The new page lists nearly all of the funding opportunities by program areas and provides links describing the federal funding, funding amounts, the eligible applicants and the individual responsible for content information (aka State agency technical contact). In addition, the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has created a new web page that provides easy links to grant funding opportunities and ARRA related resources: ARRA related resources including guidance documents from Federal and State agencies. New York City has also created a stimulus tracker website that allows individual’s to follow the City’s distribution and use of federal stimulus/recovery funds provided through ARRA.


Supported Education Training at The Center  

Title:                Learning to Build Your Future
Date:               Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Time:               9:30am - 12:30pm
Location:         The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies
Facilitator:        Marie Sabatino  

This interactive half-day training is designed for mental health providers interested in learning about an emerging best practice: supported education. Participants will review the most up-to-date research on supported education programs. Staff will learn how to support persons in recovery to gain access to educational programs that will help them develop meaningful careers of their choice. Discover how educational opportunities can spark recovery and inspire people to build a hopeful future. Providers who are helping individuals to achieve their educational and career goals are especially encouraged to attend.

Note: Special guest presenter and NAMI-NYC Metro member, Emily Hughes, will discuss her personal path to recovery, which includes engagement with and degrees earned from bachelor and master’s-level educational programs.

Click on this link to Register now » or visit our website: www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training.


MHA of Westchester to Present Person Centered Service Planning Conference

Please save the date, Tuesday, May 26, 2009, for “It’s All About You: Person Centered Service Planning,” the 29th Annual Ira Stevens Conference presented by the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Westchester , a Coalition member, and the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health. Speakers will include: Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D., Commissioner, New York State Office of Mental Health, Grant Mitchell, M.D., Commissioner Westchester County Department of Mental Health, and Mark Ragins, M.D., Medical Director, The Village Integrated Service Agency.

The conference will be held at the County Center in White Plains, New York, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Topics include financial and strategic viability of person centered practices, motivational interviewing, developing peer supports, becoming proactive in our own services, and person centered practice with individuals receiving court mandated service. For more information please visit: www.mhawestchester.org or contact hansenj@mhawestchester.org .


Around the Water Cooler

Patricia Feinberg, Administrative Assistant/Peer Educator at The Coalition, is featured in two publications. Ms. Feinberg has authored an article on recovery and health called “The Healing Power of Work” in the May 2009 edition of New York Nonprofit Press on page 17. She also has written an article appearing in the Summer 2009 issue of Mental Health News on page 35 called “Recovery: A Participant in Life.”

The Coalition would like to welcome and looks forward to a collegial and productive working relationship with Dr. Thomas Farley, who has been appointed the next Commissioner of DOHMH by Mayor Bloomberg. Dr. Farley has worked with various Bureaus within the Division of Mental Hygiene over the last year on alcohol and drug policy, as well as early intervention services for children. We would like to congratulate Dr. Thomas Frieden, Commissioner of DOHMH, on his recent appointment as the new Director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We expect Dr. Frieden to continue making valuable contributions to public health in his new position.

 University Settlement House, a Coalition member, recently unveiled its new Chinese name. With no direct translation for “settlement house” in Mandarin or Cantonese, University Settlement decided to settle on one name that was reflective of its work. After much research and discussions with its Chinese staff, participants and other leaders in the Chinese community, an internal committee decided on a name that translates roughly to “The University Good Neighborliness House.”

Joe Baker, Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services at the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will be rejoining the Medicare Rights Center (MRC) as President. Mr. Baker was Executive Vice President of the MRC from 1994 to 2001. We wish him luck and much success in his new role.

NYS Office of Mental Health Commissioner Michael F. Hogan and Medical Director Lloyd I. Sederer discuss the limits and challenges on policy change spurred by mental health/criminal justice emergencies and consequent public attention in the recent edition of Health Affairs.  Read the report »


Mayor Bloomberg Releases FY 2010 Executive Budget

On Friday, May 1, 2009, Mayor Bloomberg presented the City’s Fiscal Year 2010 Executive Budget. The Mayor outlined a plan to balance the budget for FY 2010 through a cumulative total of $3.4 billion in agency spending cuts. Coalition staff was on hand at City Hall to gather details. After sifting through budget documents and speaking with Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and other City officials, we have confirmed that there were no new cuts to community-based behavioral health funding in DOHMH. Moving forward, we will be aggressively advocating to restore City Council funding for the Geriatric Mental Health and Children Under Five initiatives. We will testify at the City Council at a hearing on DOHMH’s Executive 2010 Budget on May 27th, 2009 at 2PM. We urge all providers who receive funding from the City Council for the Geriatric Mental Health and Children Under Five City Council initiatives to testify at the hearing as well.


Governor Paterson Issues Legislation to Make Timothy’s Law Permanent

On May 5, 2009, Governor Paterson announced legislation to make Timothy’s Law permanent. Timothy’s Law, which took effect on January 1, 2007 requires:

  • Insurers issuing group or school blanket health insurance policies or contracts in New York to provide a minimum of 30 inpatient days and 20 outpatient visits (30/20 benefit) for the treatment of mental health conditions
  • Large group health insurance policies (with more than 50 employees or members) to provide coverage for adults and children diagnosed with biologically based mental illnesses and children diagnosed with serious emotional disturbances at the same level of coverage as is provided for other health conditions

The Coalition wishes to thank the Governor, whose announcement starts a process that was persistently sought by the Timothy’s Law Executive Committee, a group of advocates from around the State (whom we will be presenting with The Coalition’s Leadership Award). We also urge our legislators to support the proposal to make Timothy’s Law permanent, as it is currently set to expire on December 31, 2009.


Obama Announces $17B in Federal Budget Cuts; Keeps SAMHSA & HUD Core Services Level

On May 7, 2009, President Obama released initial details of his Administration’s $3.4 trillion FY 2010 budget, including $17 billion of cuts. Below are highlights of the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMSHA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budgets. The budget proposal will now be taken up by the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The FY 2010 Budget proposal increases funding for SAMSHA by a mere $59 million over FY 2009 to $3.5 billion. Two key programs, the Substance Abuse and Treatment Block Grant (SATBG) and the Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) are funded at $1.8 billion and $421 million respectively. MHBG and SAPT award grants to States to provide mental health and substance abuse services to people with behavioral health disabilities. While the budget keeps these programs level to FY 2009, The National Council, a membership organization representing The Coalition and behavioral health providers around the country, is currently advocating for an increase of $150 million to SAPT and $100 million to MHBG. Other funding highlights include $35 million for drug treatment courts to divert individuals from incarceration systems to treatment programs in the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), as well as a slight increase for the Center for Mental Health Services’ (CMHS) Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) and Children’s Mental Health Services. The Coalition will join with the National Council’s Hill Day and bring a delegation to Washington D.C. on June 10th to visit key New York State Congressional representatives.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The FY 2010 Budget for HUD proposes full funding of the agency’s core programs as well as some new initiatives including an initial $1 billion to fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The Trust Fund will enable new affordable rental housing for low income families. New rental assistance availability will also be available from increases to Section 8 housing programs and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program. The Administration proposes $1.8 billion for McKinney-Vento funding, an increase of $119 million over FY 2009 funding. This amount is $4 million less than the funding level recommended by the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY), of which The Coalition is an affiliate member. We are pleased that Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have signed a letter supporting the additional funding increase. HUD will also be receiving a substantial amount of new funding provided by the Federal Stimulus Bill for Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing, of which New York City will be allocated $73.4 million.


NYC’s Third Annual Peer Specialist Conference Co-sponsored by The Center  

Title:                Peer Specialists in New York City: A Change We Can Believe In
Date:               Monday, June 22, 2009
Time:               8:30am - 4:30pm
Location:          New York University, Kimmel Center

New York City’s FREE third annual peer conference, Peer Specialists in New York City: A Change We Can Believe In, will emphasize the accomplishments, as well as the combined experience, knowledge and expertise of people working as Peer Specialists throughout NYC. Peer Specialists will demonstrate how they have changed and will continue to change and transform the mental health delivery system in New York City.

Note: This year the peer conference will include a Mental Health Provider Intensive. Center staff will be facilitating the workshop, Leading the Way to Recovery: Promoting Peer Integration in the Workplace, in the Provider Intensive.

Click on this link to Register Now »  or visit our website: www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training.


New NY Prescription $aver Card

NYP$ is a pharmacy discount card that can lower the cost of prescription drugs by as much as 60% on generics and 30% on brand name drugs. The card just needs to be shown at a participating pharmacy to receive the discount right at the counter. NYP$ is sponsored by New York State and supported by pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers who are generously providing these discounts. 

New York State residents are eligible if they are not already receiving Medicaid and are:

  • Either age 50 up to 65, or persons with a disability who have been determined disabled by the Social Security Administration; AND
  • Have annual household income less than $35,000 (single) or $50,000 (married).

For more information, go to the New York Prescription $aver Card’s website at https://nyprescriptionsaver.fhsc.com/.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5360 Director, Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery

Director of Residential Services

5423 Assistant Manager

Peer Specialist, Part Time


Clinical Social Work Supervisor

5455 Controller / Finance Executive
5456 Clinical Software Applications Trainer



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