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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
September 2, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy: A Dedicated Advocate for Behavioral Health Policy

The Coalition mourns the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy who served in the Senate for almost five decades. Throughout his legislative career, Senator Kennedy fought for reforms and laws that have improved the lives of millions of Americans, including those who live with mental health and substance abuse issues.

With his compassion and understanding of the human condition, Kennedy worked closely, and effectively, with Democrats and Republicans to sponsor or pass landmark legislation that has meaningfully changed behavioral health policy in our country. Among them are: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equitable Treatment Act, the expansion of the Fair Housing Act to include people with disabilities, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) and many, many more initiatives.

Last year, Senator Kennedy also worked with his son, Representative Patrick Kennedy, to pass mental health parity, which established equity in health insurance coverage for behavioral and physical health conditions. Along with equality for people with disabilities, health care reform was another passion of Senator Kennedy’s. He called it the cause of his life.

Ted Kennedy vigorously fought for health care reform throughout his career in the Senate. While he did not live to see Congress pass a national health care reform bill, during his final days, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (which Ted Kennedy chaired) did just that. Next week the Senate will return to session for the first time in 47 years without Ted Kennedy. His powerful voice for individuals with disabilities will surely be missed. In Kennedy’s own words, “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

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More State Budget Cuts?

It looks like the human services sector will have to face the possibility of more service cuts this fall. On August 13, 2009, Governor Paterson said that he will ask the Legislature to impose a spending cap plan to prevent future budget deficits. The Governor wishes to reduce the State’s deficit by $35 to $40 billion over the next three to four years. Due to less revenue collections than anticipated since May, New York Governor Paterson today kicked off the “Novel H1N1 Influenza Town Hall Meeting Tour,” where he announced a comprehensive, multi-agency strategy and vaccination plan to prepare for the upcoming flu season and possible resurgence of the novel H1N1 flu.State has already amounted a $2.1 billion in deficit in the current fiscal year.  

On August 26, 2009, the Governor once again addressed the State’s fiscal problems, saying that he hopes to reach a preliminary agreement with the Legislature by Labor Day to deal with the budget shortfall, and call the Legislature back for a special session in late September. While tax increases helped balance the State’s budget last year, Paterson said that he does not want to raise taxes again this year, signaling spending cuts instead.

Many nonprofit providers are already feeling the effects of reduced revenue from private and public funding sources. The fiscal climate of nonprofit providers was featured in the news recently. The New York Times and City Limits Weekly covered this topic with commentary from Coalition members.

Last year, The Coalition and other advocates were able to push back and offer alternatives to State budget cuts to mental health and substance abuse programs. We will continue to monitor the State’s fiscal condition and keep you informed of any proposals to address it.

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Coalition Has Part 521 Compliance Templates

On October 1, 2009 affected providers are required to be in compliance with OMIG regulations Part 521. To assist providers in developing their compliance policies The Coalition will have a set of templates, created by our healthcare policy attorney, available for purchase within the next 7-10 days. Please check our website for availability http://www.coalitionny.org/prof_learn_ctr/store/.

The Part 521 regulations apply to all organizations subject to the provisions of articles 28, 36, 16 and 31 regardless of amount of Medicaid income. For organizations that do not fall into any of these categories, other stipulations may apply.

Compliance programs must include policies and procedures covering billing, payments, medical necessity and quality of care, governance, mandatory reporting, credentialing and other risk areas identified by the provider. These may be a component of a more comprehensive compliance program. Providers will be required to certify annually to the OMIG that they have the required compliance programs in place.

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New FTC Compliance Requirements on Medical Identity Theft

On August 1, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began to enforce the Red Flags Rule. It requires certain businesses and organizations, including many health care providers, to develop a written program to spot the warning signs (red flags) of identity theft. The mandatory compliance date for “Red Flags” has been pushed back several times, and is now set for November 1, 2009.

The important issue to note is that this rule may apply to many health care providers if their activities fall within the law’s definition of “creditor” or “covered account”. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the law includes in its definition of “creditor” any entity that regularly defers payments for goods or services, or arranges for the extension of credit. Every provider organization must review its billing and payment procedures to determine if they are covered by the Red Flags Rule. A good review of the FTC policy as it relates to health care providers can be found in an article published on FTC's website and FTC letter responding to an American Medical Association (AMA) query.

If the Red Flags Rule applies to your organization, you are required to develop and implement a written program to spot the warning signs of identity theft. This program must be approved by your organization’s Board of Directors. In case you missed the Coalition’s training on FTC compliance, you can access our website for more information under News & Resources:  http://www.coalitionny.org/news_resources/compliance/.

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OMH Issues Final Rule on Streamlining PAR Process

In today’s NYS Register the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) issued the final rule for the “Prior Approval Review for Quality and Appropriateness”. The purpose of the rule is to streamline the process for agencies to obtain an OMH project approval (PAR). The rule categorizes projects that require review into three distinct categories: 1) administrative action, 2) comprehensive PAR and 3) E-Z Par. The full text of the rule can be found online at http://www.dos.state.ny.us/info/register/2009/sep2/pdfs/rules.pdf (pg.29).

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Around the Water Cooler

Dr. Lloyd Sederer, Medical Director at OMH, has done it again! He has written another timely article featured in the Huffington Post. In his latest one, Dr. Sederer shares his knowledge on the behavioral health issues that kids may face when the go off to college.

New York State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. announced the appointment of James W. Clyne, Jr. as Executive Deputy Commissioner. He succeeds Wendy Saunders, who was recently named Governor David A. Paterson’s Deputy Secretary for Health, Medicaid and Oversight.

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Coalition & UJA Federation Advocate for Health Information Technology Funding

The Coalition, the UJA Federation and several of our agencies, partnered to advocate for Health Information Technology (HIT) funding for the community-based mental health and addiction services sector. Together, we have identified strategies to become an integral part of the planning process for Federal and State funded HIT initiatives in the NYS Office of Health Information Technology Transformation (OHITT) and the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC).

The Coalition will now be part of OHITT’s communication and technical task forces. Coalition members that will be sitting on HIT related task forces include FEGS, Staten Island Mental Health Society, PSCH, Jewish Board of Family and Children Services, Jewish Association of Services for the Aged, and Westchester Jewish Community Services.

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JBFCS to Hold Groundbreaking Ceremony for Ittelson Center Gym & School

On September 10, 2009, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), a Coalition member, will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its Ittelson Center Gym and School Building Project in Riverdale, New York. The keynote speaker will be Councilmember Oliver Koppell of the New York City Council – District 11. 

Koppell will join JBFCS Board leadership, staff and kids from the center for a ceremonial first shovel. This will be followed by a back-to-school celebration on this first day of school. Koppell spearheaded the City Council’s funding of the JBFCS Ittelson Center project in the amount of $500,000. The Ittelson Center offers day and residential treatment programs for children facing emotionally challenging conditions. 

For other Coalition Member events go to http://www.coalitionny.org/members/events.php.

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OMH to Hold Public Hearing on Statewide Comprehensive Plan

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) will be holding public hearings on their Statewide Plan, often called the 5.07 Plan, on September 15, 2009, from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Hearings will take place at three locations around the State. Because space is limited, OMH would like you to pre-register. If interested, please click on this link to learn more about locations and pre-registration.

OMH’s approach to the Statewide Plan differs somewhat from previous years where testimony was formally presented to the OMH. This year, a draft plan will be posted on OMH’s website for review prior to the hearing day. Comments can be submitted to OMH online. It is expected that the plan will be posted by Labor Day for review prior to the hearing date. Final publication of the plan is set for October 1.

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September is National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month

Each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) designates September as Recovery Month. During recovery month, HHS sponsors events to highlight the societal benefits of substance abuse treatment and promote the message that recovery, in all its forms, is possible. HHS has setup a Recovery Month website which can be accessed on the Internet at www.recoverymonth.gov.

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) will be acknowledging recovery month by sponsoring a Pathways to Recovery Forum on September 11, 2009. OASAS is also promoting a Recovery Rally being held by the Arts & Entertainment Channel (A&E) on September 12, 2009 at the Brooklyn Bridge. Last year the rally attracted more than 5,000 people.

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Changes to Medicare Part D Could Make it Easier to Qualify for Benefits

Beginning January 1, 2010, recent changes in the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act will enable more people to qualify for Medicare Part D’s Extra Help Program. The law will no longer count as a resource any life insurance policy or income that is regularly received by consumers from other individuals to help pay for household expenses. This includes money for food, rent, electricity, heating fuel or gas, water, and property taxes. 

The Social Security Administration recently published a new fact sheet called Changes in the Law Could Make More People Eligible for Extra Help in 2010. It provides additional information for community-based organizations, advocacy groups and other third parties who assist people with Medicare. Additional information about Medicare Part D is also available on The Coalition’s website at http://www.coalitionny.org/news_resources/medicare_part_d/.

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Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5543 Psychologist
5544 Registered Nurse - ACT Team
5545 MICA Specialist - ACT Team
5548

Compliance Assistant

5549 Job Developer/Counselor

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