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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 21, 2009

Governor Paterson Issues $5B Budget Deficit Reduction Plan

With the State’s fiscal crisis deepening, Governor Paterson announced a $5 billion dollar; two-year savings plan. The Governor’s plan, which he put forward on October 15, 2009, would strike out $3 billion from the State’s deficit in the current fiscal year (FY 2009-10), and $2 billion in FY 2010-11. While the Governor measures the current year budget deficit at $3 billion, last week, State Comptroller DiNapoli, estimated it at $4.1 billion.

The plan calls for a $1.3 billion cut (or 10%) to local assistance funding that has not been expended, and $1.2 billion in one shot revenue enhancements (mainly through increased auditing). The Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) will be targeting Medicaid fraud to recoup $150 million; however, the Governor did say that this figure would be difficult to reach. Governor Paterson also stood by his pledge for new tax increases, and to his proposal to cut $500 million dollars of non-personal expenses in his administration.

Local assistance cuts and revenue adjustments will require approval by the State Legislature. Governor Paterson plans to call the Legislature into special session to negotiate a budget reduction deal. The Legislature has scheduled public hearings on the Governor’s proposal. The Assembly Ways & Means committee will convene on Wednesday, October 21, 2009, and the Senate Finance committee on Monday, October 26, 2009.

What does this mean for substance abuse funding?

If approved, the Governor’s plan would cut $16.1 million in local assistance funding. Most of the cuts would affect Outpatient Chemical Dependency Services ($5.1 million), Residential Services ($4.9 million), Prevention Services ($2.5 million) and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) ($1.6 million); plus $325K in administrative savings.

What does this mean for mental health funding?

OMH’s budget would be cut by $47.2 million in local assistance funding, which includes  Adult Residential Services ($13.5 million), Adult Services (Medicaid) ($13.0 million), Adult Non-Residential Services ($9.7 million), Children and Youth Services (Medicaid) ($5.7 million), Children and Youth Non-Residential Services ($3.0 million); plus $5.5 million in administrative savings.

In speaking with State officials, The Coalition has learned that should these cuts be approved, State agencies will ultimately have to come up with a plan on how to apply them to specific programs. This was done last year with some flexibility, however at a much smaller level of cuts. We will keep you updated on budget specifics and on service/program applicability as we obtain more information from the State.

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National Health Care Reform Takes One Step Forward

With the passage of the Senate Finance Committee’s version of a health care reform bill on October 14, 2009, the Senate moved closer to passing health care reform. The legislation was passed by the Finance committee by a vote of 14-9, with all 13 Democrats voting “yes,” and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) being the only Republican to support the bill. The next step is for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to lead the Senate to agreement on one bill, by merging the Finance committee’s bill with the version passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) committee in July.

In total, there are 5 health care reform bills alive in Congress, with 3 other versions sitting in the House of Representatives. The 3 committees that passed bills in the House are the Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor. Once the House and Senate each pass their own health care bills, Congress will then have to agree on one single version in order to pass a comprehensive National Health Care Reform bill to send to President Obama. Key leadership in the House and Senate hope to have this done by Christmas.

The House and Senate HELP bills each offer minimum benefit plans that comply with the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). The Senate Finance bill also offers parity to individual and small group policies, and now, thanks to an amendment proposed by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Kerry (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), it also applies parity to benefit plans offered in health insurance exchanges. The House Energy & Commerce bill establishes federally qualified behavioral health centers (FQBHC) to help address affordability. The Senate HELP bill includes a provision for co-location of primary care with behavioral health services. The Senate Finance bill was amended by Senators Stabenow and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to include community mental health centers as an eligible provider for the Medicaid option for integrated health care and medical homes, and clarifies that individuals with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI) are eligible to receive coverage for these services. The Coalition is tracking the inclusion of mental health and substance abuse benefits in the final health care reform bills. According to a survey conducted by the Open Society Institute and Lake Research Partners, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of covering addiction treatment in health care reform. We hope that Congress hears this message.

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'Introduction to Mental Health, Rehab & Recovery’ Training at the Center

Date/Time:    Thursday, October 29th - Friday, October 30th  /  9:30am – 4:30pm
Location:       The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies (Downtown Manhattan)
Facilitator:     Marie Sabatino  |  Fee: FREE
Register:       Center Website »         

This two-day training is designed for mental health staff in various roles and settings who seek the most up-to-date information and resources on mental health, psychiatric rehabilitation and promising practices that promote recovery. Participants will explore the value and guiding principles of recovery and how these translate for consumers, practitioners, programs and mental health systems. Information on Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS), a new program model that is designed to facilitate recovery, will also be provided.

Note:  Special guest presenter, Matt Wofsy, Director of Best-Practice & Evidence-Based Initiatives, Institute for Community Living, will discuss the latest in evidence-based practice strategies that support a person’s recovery and self-growth.

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Around the Water Cooler

Reverend Terry Troia, Executive Director of Staten Island’s Project Hospitality is profiled in the Staten Island Advance.

After 8 years of service as PSCH’s Deputy Director, Kelly Corkhill is moving on to Community Care for Behavioral Health as they launch OMH’s new care monitoring initiative. We wish her luck in her new position.

The Coalition congratulates Odyssey House, a Coalition member, for being awarded a $1.4 million SAMHSA grant to enhance residential treatment and community services for women and children. Click here for full press release.  

The Coalition applauds Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS), a Coalition member who received a $10,000 grant from the CJ Foundation for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) to provide an ongoing support group for parents who have lost a child to SIDS, educate the public about risk prevention and infant safety, and distribute bi-lingual risk-prevention materials.

Services for the UnderServed (SUS), a Coalition member, received a three-year accreditation by CARF International (the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) for its employment, clubhouse and day habilitation programs. This is the highest level of CARF standards that that can be awarded to an organization, keep up the good work!

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Supporting Young Adults in Career Exploration and Employment Workshop

Date:            October 28, 2009
Time:            9:30am - Noon
Location:       The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies | 90 Broad St., 8th Fl.
Presenter:     Dr. Amy Smiley | Fee: $50
Register:       Coalition Website »

This seminar is designed to help providers who are looking to create or enhance their employment services, or those who simply want to increase their understanding of this highly important area of transition to adulthood.

Seminar participants will have the opportunity to hear presentations by experts in employment for young adults in transition:  Robin Sklarin, Program Director of safeTYnet, Youth Achieving Independence, at Staten Island Mental Health, has a long history of working with young adults to enhance their vocational aptitude, both in the schools and in a community mental health setting. Robin has an incredible understanding of the supports needed for young adults to be successful in their internships.  Luis Fuentes, Director of Employment for the Youth Programs at CASES (Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services), has conceived of employment services in a highly comprehensive manner (job readiness, literacy, substance abuse counseling). The impressive graduation rates from his certificate program attest to how engaging it is for disconnected  young adults.

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Rockefeller Reform is Underway, OASAS Funding Available

As of October 7, 2009, roughly 1,500 individuals statewide (half in New York City) are eligible to petition the court for resentencing under the reforms of Rockefeller Drug Laws passed in April 2009. Judges will also have discretion to divert certain drug offenders away from incarceration and into treatment. This will all create a greater need for community-based services.

Drug treatment providers in New York City are encouraged to apply for enhanced treatment and services funding from the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) at: http://www.oasas.state.ny.us/admin/rfp/index.cfm. Funds are also being made available to local governments. Westchester, Orange, Nassau, and Suffolk counties are eligible to complete Planning Supplements for additional funding to Part 822 outpatient treatment programs. Guidelines are available at: http://www.oasas.state.ny.us/hps/state/state.cfm.

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Federal Court Decision on Adult Homes Radiates Through the Community

For providers and consumers alike, reactions to the landmark decision on adult homes varies depending on one’s viewpoint. On September 8, 2009, Judge Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn found New York State in violation of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to house 4,300 individuals in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. According to a news article published in the New York Times on October 9, 2009, as disability advocates celebrate the ruling, which will force adult homes to integrate residents with mental illness into community-based housing with appropriate supports, families of adult home residents are apprehensive about the possibility of their loved ones moving out and being without stable support and services. New York State is required by the court to submit a remedial plan this month.

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), a Coalition member, wrote a letter in response  to the Times’ article. JBFCS provides community-integrated apartments and services for 255 New Yorkers living with mental illness. While recognizing the complexities of transitioning long-term residents to community-integrated apartments, JBFCS attests to the fact that supported housing programs work. According to Rebecca Wulf, Director, Bronx Real, “they provide adults living with mental illness the safety net and support they need while at the same time maximizing their independence and overall quality of life.” The JBFCS letter was featured in the New York Times on October 16, 2009.

While we acknowledge that not all adult home providers fit into one category, and not every consumer has the same needs, The Coalition has formally asked the Governor to not appeal the judge’s decision. We will continue to follow this issue and report on its aftermaths.

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'Recovery is Working' Training at the Center

Date/Time:    Wednesday, November 4th - Thursday, November 5th  /  9:30am – 4:30pm
Location:       The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies (Downtown Manhattan)
Facilitator:     Aaron Vieira, LMSW  |  Fee: FREE
Register:       Center Website »

This two day training is designed for mental health providers in various roles and settings who seek to help consumers achieve their employment goals. After exploring the role of work in recovery, participants will learn about the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment as well as other vocational services in New York City. By the end of the training, participants will be better equipped to inspire, support and advocate for consumers who are pursuing employment and/or career advancement.

Note:  Guest presenter: Pat Feinberg, the Center’s Peer Educator, will discuss the role of work in her recovery and her recent career advancement.

You may also register for these trainings on our website: www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training/. Space is limited, so we encourage you to register yourself or your staff as soon as possible!

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Homeless Prevention & Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) Update

New York City has made available its local plan for implementing the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). This program uses Federal stimulus money to prevent homelessness through short and medium term financial assistance, benefits advocacy, housing relocation and stabilization services, case management and aftercare services to households who are at-risk of homelessness. About $74 million in HPRP was allocated to New York City in July.

According to the local plan devised by the NYC Department of Homeless Services, $46 million will be allocated to New York City’s HomeBase Program (which conducts homeless outreach services), while the remaining $28 million will fund anti-eviction services, case management services, homeless prevention services, aftercare, rapid re-housing for youth and families, rent arrears, public awareness and resources, housing inspections and data tracking. For more information and tracking of New York City Federal stimulus projects, please visit the following link: www.nyc.gov/html/ops/nycstim/html/tracker/neighborhood.shtml.

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The Coalition Collaborates with Partners to Secure HIT Stimulus Funding

The Coalition has been working closely with UJA and the NYS Office of Health Information Technology Transformation (OHITT) to direct Federal stimulus funding to the behavioral health sector. As part of the statewide collaboration process, Coalition staff and representatives from several of our members serve on the Clinical Priorities Work Group, Consumer Advisory Council, Education and Communication Committee and the Protocols and Services Work Group. As part of our joint efforts, we submitted a letter of support for the New York eHealth Collaborative’s (NYeC) application for federal funding under the State Health Information Exchange (HIE) Cooperative Agreement Program.

The Coalition has also been advocating with the NYS Congressional Delegation to include community-based behavioral health agencies as eligible providers for Federal Health Information Technology (HIT) funding. The Coalition strongly believes that the behavioral health sector must be a part of all HIT initiatives and receive the necessary funding to provide quality care to individuals with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. We will continue to advocating at the City, State and Federal level for the inclusion of our sector.

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PBS Airs “Healthy Minds” Series on Behavioral Health

Starting this month the award winning television series called “Healthy Minds” will be airing on Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) nationwide. The “Healthy Minds” series consists of 16 half-hour episodes to address the issue of stigma in behavioral health care. Each episode covers topics like depression, chemical dependency, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders and bipolar disorder, and uses “inspiring personal stories” to explain the impact of mental illness, as well as interviews with celebrities, researchers and experts. Episodes can be caught on PBS stations and online at: http://www.wliw.org/productions/local/healthy-minds/season-two-overview/164/.

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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
5564 Clinical Social Worker
5566 Staff Generalist, East NY Clubhouse
5567 Program Director
5570

Site Director - Residential Addiction Services

5572 ACT Team Leader
5573 Associate Director - Mental Health Clinic Satellite

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