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The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Behavioral Health in New York
                              January 29, 2010

Governor Paterson Proposes Cuts (Mostly) to Close $7.4B Gap

On January 19, 2010, Governor Paterson released the State’s 2010-11 Executive Budget to close a deficit of $7.4 billion. The Coalition is pleased about the Governor’s proposal to extend until June 2014 the exemption of public sector practitioners from the social work and mental health professionals licensing law, his continued support of New York/New York III supportive housing, and provisions for new funding for housing and treatment under drug law reform. We also support the proposed beginnings of an Adult Home Remedial Plan. Still, The Coalition has a number of concerns. Read about the reactions from the human services sector in the New York Nonprofit Press (NYNP).

Through the review of budget documents and conversations with State officials, The Coalition has confirmed that the Executive 2010-11 Budget proposes to increase the recovery target for the Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) by an additional $300M. This is in addition to the extra $150M that was approved by the Legislature in the last Deficit Reduction Plan (DRP), totaling $1.2B. Unfortunately, the Governor’s budget proposes to maintain the cut to the SRO Supported Services program and proposes cuts to other homeless prevention services. In addition, clinic reform will move forward despite the State’s decision not to perform a stress projection test on clinics under the new reimbursement model, and inadequate rates for services provided under managed care plans and the indigent care pool. We will certainly bring these issues to the attention of State leaders on our Albany Advocacy Day visits on February 23 and 24.

Mayor Bloomberg testified in Albany on Monday, January 25, 2010 to inform legislators about the impact of the State Executive 2010-11 Budget on New York City. The Mayor said that the City would receive $1.3B in less aid. He warned the State that the City would have to cut local services, impacting schools, police, fire and sanitation services, and the closing of 500 soup kitchens. According to Mayor Bloomberg’s testimony, the City would also have to lay off 18,500 workers. The City’s budget currently faces a $4.9B deficit of its own. On Thursday, January 28, 2010, the Mayor released the City’s FY11 Preliminary Budget. Cuts were made to “Mental Hygiene Contracts” for $2.2M in FY10 and $6.4M in FY11 and out. The Coalition will keep you informed when more details are released by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).


Coalition’s 2010 Albany Advocacy Days February 23 and 24

The Coalition plans two days of critical meetings with State leaders in Albany on February 23 and 24 to advocate for the community-based behavioral health sector. This year, our schedule will consist of a series of visits with key committee chairs and rank and file members from New York City and Westchester. We are seeking meetings with Senate Majority Leader Conference Leader John L. Sampson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senator Carl Kruger (Chair of Finance Committee), Senator Thomas A. Morahan (Chair of Mental Health Committee), Assembly Member Peter M. Rivera (Chair of Committee on Mental Health), Assembly Member Felix Ortiz (Chair of Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse), Senator Thomas K. Duane (Chair of Health Committee) and Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried (Chair of Committee on Health), as well as other representatives on pertinent committees.

Our agenda will focus on budget issues, securing a 4 year exemption for public sector practitioners from Social Work and Mental Health Professionals Licensing Law requirements, the regulation of the Office of Medicaid Inspector General’s (OMIG) auditing standards as the State looks to increase OMIG targets for take-backs on claims, and the crisis of care that may result from clinic reform. Members may RSVP for Advocacy Day at cbianchi@coalitionny.org.


City Council Assigns Standing Committees

The new Chairs and standing committee member assignments for the City Council were announced on January 21, 2010. The Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services will continue to be chaired by G. Oliver Koppell (Bronx). Gale Brewer (Manhattan) will continue as a standing member of the committee. New members on the Mental Health Committee are freshmen Council Members Dan Halloran (Queens) and Fernando Cabrera (Bronx). Council Member Cabrera will also Chair the Subcommittee on Drug Abuse, which was formerly chaired by Annabel Palma, who is now the new Chair of the Committee on General Welfare. Domenic Recchia will Chair the Committee on Finance, and Carmen Arroyo the Chair of the Committee on Health.

The Coalition has begun to meet with the new Council Members to introduce them to the mental health and substance abuse programs operated in their districts. We encourage our members to reach out to them as well. 


Coalition Conference a Huge Success

The Coalition’s January 14, 2010 conference called “The Tail That Wags the Dog: The Impact of Insurance on Behavioral Health” was huge success. Wendell Potter, our keynote speaker, provided an insider’s perspective of the overlapping interests between the insurance industry and legislators. His advice for the nonprofit sector was on the power of messaging to simplify your point of view.

The conference was moderated by Fred Scaglione, Editor of the New York Nonprofit Press, look for coverage of the conference in upcoming issues!

Go to the Coalition's website to download copies of various presentations and see photos of the proceedings.


Benefits Training at The Center

Title:                     Introduction to Benefits Management
Date:                    Four dates to choose from below
Time:                    1:30pm - 4:30pm
Facilitators:           Margie Staker and Patricia Feinberg, MS

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery presents a FREE half-day training offered in various locations across the city designed to help clinicians and other staff interested in learning the nuts and bolts of benefits management. The latest changes in SSA guidelines will also be discussed.

REGISTER NOW for ONE of the benefits trainings below:

  • Thursday, February 25 – The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, 1:30 – 4:30pm
  • Wednesday, March 3 – Transitional Services for New York Inc, 1:30 – 4:30pm
  • Thursday, March 11 – Odyssey House, 1:30 – 4:30pm
  • Thursday, March 18 – Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, 1:30 – 4:30pm

You may also register for this training at The Center’s web page: www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training.


Around the Water Cooler

The Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service (BBCS), a member of The Coalition will hold its second annual benefit concert called “Notes from Brooklyn” on Thursday, February 11, 2010, from 7:00-10:30 PM at St. Ann’s Church at Montague and Clinton Streets. For tickets and information go to www.bbcs.org.

Two Coalition members, FEGS and Project Hospitality have begun to operate Low-Wage Immigrant Worker Employment Service programs, with funding provided by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

CAMBA, a Coalition member, was awarded a grant to provide assistance for the 2010 census count by the Federal government. Funding will support outreach and media campaigns to reach populations that are difficult to count or have low response rates.

The Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service, a Coalition member, was featured in the New York Times Neediest Cases column for the work of its Transitional Living Community program.

Attorney Robert S. Cutrona of Todt Hill was elected to a one-year term on the Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) board of directors.  SIMHS is a member of The Coalition. See the full story as reported by the Staten Island Advance.

The Children’s Aid Society, a member of The Coalition, announced the appointment of Maria Astudillo, LCSW-R, as Director of Mental Health Services.

Here is the latest article in The Huffington Post, published in by Dr. Lloyd Sederer. This one is called “War Returnees, PTSD and the Media.”


NYC McKinney-Vento Renewals Announced

Grant awards from the 2009 NOFA competition were announced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In total, New York City was awarded $95,993,011 through the Continuum of Care to fund 181 Supportive Housing Program renewals and 66 Shelter Plus Care renewals. President Obama will release his FY 2011 budget proposal on February 1, 2010. It is crucial that new funding is allocated to support the complete schedule of McKinney-Vento services authorized under the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act last year. The HEARTH Act advances homeless prevention and assistance programs for families, and housing for homeless people with disabilities.


Morahan Appointed to Chair of Mental Health Committee

Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson appointed two Republican Senators to committee chairmanships on January 7, 2010. The Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee will now be chaired by Senator Thomas P. Morahan (R- Rockland). The Coalition worked closely with Senator Morahan in his previous role as Chairman during the passage of Timothy’s Law, the landmark legislation which ensures mental health parity.

In a press release, Senator Morahan said, "My work in the area of mental health is one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of my life, and as Chair of the Mental Health Committee, I look forward to partnering with the advocates and others who share this passion. The Coalition looks forward to continuing collaboration with Senator Morahan.


State Senate Holds Conference on OMIG Protocols

The Senate Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Operations convened a hearing on Thursday, January 7, 2010, to explore the prevalence of Medicaid fraud in New York State and the efforts of the Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) to investigate potential fraud. During the hearing, Senator Craig Johnson (D-Nassau), who chairs the committee, probed Inspector General James Sheehan for details on OMIG’s auditing practices, the availability of audit protocols and the level of knowledge of OMIG’s auditors and investigators.

When asked to explain OMIG’s data extrapolation process, Inspector General Sheehan spoke about sampling and projections procedures that his agency uses to uncover fraud, abuse, waste and even errors. Representatives from health care providers also testified at the hearing. They shared many of the concerns that were outlined by The Coalition in the New York Nonprofit Press (NYNP) in the December 2009 cover story The OMIG Who Stole Xmas, including fairness, zealotry and administrative expenses. OMIG Inspector General Jim Sheehan's testimony is available online, as well as a webcast of the hearing.


Extension of Enhanced FMAP Rate Threatened

With the uncertainty of national health care reform, New York State is in jeopardy of not maintaining its enhanced Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) of 61% after December 31, 2010. New York usually receives 50% from the Federal government for its Medicaid claims. Last year, New York State was authorized to receive an enhanced FMAP rate through the end of this year under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In the health care reform bill passed by the House of Representatives, the higher FMAP rate would be extended for an additional 6 months. The Coalition had hoped that this provision could get reconciled with the Senate’s health care reform bill, which does not include the proposed extension.

With the political fallout in Washington D.C. and the loss of the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority, from the election of Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts to the Senate last week, the extension of the FMAP enhancement is at risk. Last month, The Coalition supported a letter urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to uphold in the Senate the extension of the FMAP increase as in the House bill. The letter was signed by 38 Senators and led to over 900 messages being sent to the Senate by advocates in support of the extension.


Management Training Series Offered by the Professional Learning Center

This past week, The Coalition launched it's Fifth Annual Advanced Management Training Series facilitated by Ira Hammer and Michael Swerdlow. This free series is geared toward helping transition individuals to top tier positions, as current executives and managers retire from the field. Sign up for any or all of the remaining workshops while seating is still available.

Utilizing Performance Indicators / Maximizing Revenue
March 23, 2010, 9am - 12 Noon
This session provides tools for utilizing performance indicators and productivity measures to effectively manage and evaluate services.

Understanding and Interpreting Basic Financial Statements
April 7, 2010, 9am - 12 Noon
This session will provide the primary concepts and principles necessary to read and understand the basic financial statements.

Planning and Managing Large Projects
April 27, 2010, 9am - 12 Noon
This session provides the manager with project planning, management tools, and time management skills

Preparing for Survey and Financial Audits
May 25, 2010, 9am - 12 Noon
This session provides the manager with a fundamental understanding of regulatory requirements for behavioral health organizations.

Behavior in the Workplace
June 8, 2010, 9am - 12 Noon
The session will discuss action steps managers must take to eliminate inappropriate language or behavior in the workplace.

More information and online registration available on our website » 


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5717 Assistant to the Executive Director
5718 Per-Diem Group Therapist
5721 Vocational Specialist

Director of Marketing & Membership

5731 Employment Coach
5735 Intensive Case Manager



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