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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
                              March 30, 2010

Senate & Assembly Pass Resolutions on SFY 2010-11 Budget

The Albany legislative process for the SFY 2010-11 Budget has officially begun, both houses passed budget resolutions last week. The Senate’s proposal was approved on Monday, March 22, 2010, and the Assembly’s was passed on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. 

The Senate’s Proposal

The resolution passed by the Senate calls for cuts to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH). If these cuts are approved during budget negotiations with the Assembly and Governor, OASAS would be hit with a $12 million cut to its deficit reduction plan related increases, and OMH would have to implement a $14.5 million in cut to state operations. The Senate’s proposal would also cut Professional Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) by $4.5 million and Comprehensive Out-Patient Services (COPS) rate appeals by $2 million. Funding for NY/NY III development would be cut by $1 million. Proposals related to the Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) would extend due process rights for providers under audit, but at the same time, increase fraud collection targets by $200 million. If these cuts were to survive in the budget negotiating process, we do not know how they would be implemented at the State agency level, but will keep monitoring budget developments for you.  

The Coalition is pleased that the Senate included language to approve the four year extension for social workers and other mental health professionals from current licensing law, as well as the proposal to transfer funding from OMH to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to enhance Medicaid managed care rates. On the revenue side of the ledger, the Senate rejected the Governor’s proposals to tax sugary beverages and increase the tobacco tax. The full text of the Senate’s budget resolution can be viewed on their website.  

The Assembly’s Proposal

The Assembly’s resolution does not include language in support of the four year licensing exemption, and The Coalition will be advocating aggressively for the exemption in the final budget bill. We do commend the Assembly for accepting the Medicaid managed care funding transfer proposal to augment clinic rates. The Assembly has also accepted the Governor’s proposal to allocate $12.8 million for drug law reform programs such as case management, assessment and outpatient treatment slots. It also agreed to fund $3.8 million to pay 172 OASAS residential placements for high-priority populations including women, children and veterans. 

The Assembly’s resolution would cut state operation funding for OASAS by $875K, and OMH’s $43.6 million. The Assembly proposal provides $74.7 million for OMH NY/NY III development and the annualization of 1,500 supported housing units. It increases the Medicaid fraud target from $870K to $1.17 million and strengthens due process considerations for providers. The Assembly rejected the Governor’s tax on sugary beverages, but accepted the tobacco tax increase. A summary of the Assembly’s proposal can be viewed their website as well.

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President Obama Signs Landmark Health Care Reform Into Law

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed historic health care reform legislation, “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590),” into law. The bill signed by President Obama extends coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, includes parity for mental health and addiction services, expands Medicaid eligibility to 133% of Federal Poverty Level, places a ban on pre-existing condition exclusions and requires basic benefit packages offered by individual and small business to include mental health and substance abuse services. Most Americans would be required to buy insurance or face penalties.  

On March 25, 2010 the House and Senate passed the “The Health Care, and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HR 4872)”, which includes more than $20 billion to subsidies for low-income and middle-class families who will be required to purchase insurance, better benefits for seniors and about $8 billion over a decade for states that already provide more generous than average Medicaid benefits. New York State will receive $2.1 billion in Federal aid to expand its Medicaid program.

President Obama is expected to sign the Act when Congress returns from recess.

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Coalition Testifies at Preliminary FY 2011 City Council Budget Hearing

On Thursday, March 11, 2010, The Coalition provided testimony at the City Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services hearing on the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2011 Preliminary Budget. We expressed our concerns on the proposed cuts to mental hygiene contracts by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and our support to restore City Council funded initiatives like Geriatric Mental Health and Children Under Five. In addition, we testified on our own City Council funded program, The Coalition’s Professional Learning Center, which provides workshops for mental health and substance abuse clinicians and administrators to support the delivery of quality of care and provide up-to-date knowledge and strategies on laws and regulations. 

The proposed cut to mental hygiene contracts would deduct $2.2 million in Fiscal Year 2010 and $6.4 million in Fiscal Year 2011. The Coalition has learned that DOHMH will use unallocated funding from closed programs to meet part of this cut, but is worried about funding reductions to treatment and prevention programs. The Department has also proposed a 4% cut to all City Council funded programs. This was a contentious issue at the hearing, as the City Council felt that DOHMH should have consulted with them on this cut, especially since the Council ultimately votes to approve the Mayor’s budget. 

Mayor Bloomberg has also called for an additional $1.3 billion in City budget cuts in anticipation of State aid reductions. This means that the DOHMH would have to meet another 7.2% target in program reductions.

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Special Election Results for City Council District 44

The Coalition congratulates David G. Greenfield, who was elected on March 23, 2010 to represent the 44th City Council District until regular scheduled elections this fall. He will represent parts of the neighborhoods of Borough Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst in Brooklyn The seat became vacant after Council Member Simcha Felder resigned in January to become Deputy Comptroller for Budget and Accounting for City Comptroller John Liu. Greenfield defeated Joseph Lazar by a margin of 58% to 40%.

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Around the Water Cooler

The Coalition would like to acknowledge Chris Madan for her extensive career in public service as she will be retiring from the Office of Mental Health (OMH). Chris has served as the Assistant Director of the New York City Field Office for 12 years. During her career, Chris has spent a total of 14 years working to develop low-income housing for special needs populations in New York City and the surrounding area. Prior to her work at OMH, Chris was a team leader in the New York State Housing & Assistance Program’s New York City Office. She also has experience working at the New York State Department of Social Services. After she earned a Master’s degree from Columbia University, Chris worked at Unity House, coordinating its residential and psychosocial mental health programs.

Member Notes

The Coalition congratulates the Institute of Community Living (ICL) for receiving the first presentation of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare’s Excellence in Risk Management Award. The award recognizes the significant inroads made by ICL towards integrated coordinated assessment and intervention of and for clinical risk.

Pamela Tindall-O’Brien, Esq. will be assuming the position of Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President  at the Institute of Community Living (ICL) effective Monday, May 10, 2010. Ms. TIndall-O’Brien joins ICL after 33 years of public service with New York State. For the last 23 years, she served as the Assistant Attorney for OMH specializing in compliance matters.

The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA of Westchester) received a $50,000 grant from the van Ameringen Foundation. The grant will support MHA’s Nuestro Futuro program, which serves the mental health needs of Westchester’s rapidly growing Latino population.

Hip Hop legend and fashion icon Russell Simmons recently visited two programs operated by the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS). Simmons will be honored at the JBFCS’ upcoming Annual Spring Benefit on April 21st at Guastavino’s in New York City. Also being honored at the Spring Benefit will be JBFCS Board of Trustees Chairman John A. Herrmann and JBFCS Vice President David F. Everett.

David Garza will become the new Executive Director of Henry Street Settlement, effective July 1, 2010. Garza is currently the Chief Administrator of Henry Street’s Workforce Development Center (WDC). He will succeed Verona Middleton-Jeter who is retiring after 38 years at Henry Street.

James Hollywood LCSW has been appointed Assistant Vice President of Residential Programs at Samaritan Village, Inc. His responsibilities include providing clinical leadership and management at Samaritan’s Ellenville, Van Wyck, Highbridge, Richmond Hill, and 53rd Street programs.

Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services celebrated the expansion its Sunset Park Early Childhood Development Center. After being awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Robin Hood Foundation and additional funding from the N YC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), Catholic Charities converted 4,000 square-feet of unused space into five classrooms to serve 114 additional children who had been a waiting list of over 350 families.

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OMH Releases Guidance Document on Part 599 Mental Health Clinic Regulations

On March 23, 2010, the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) released the Part 599 regulations guidance document to define services, financing and program rules under clinic reform. The regulations were posted in the State Register on March 17, 2010, and are now open for the 45 day public comment period. The full Part 599 Clinic Regulations proposal is available on the OMH website at: http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/policy_and_regulations/

The proposed Part 599 Clinic regulations reflect the work of a wide range of stakeholders, including The Coalition. These regulations are augmented by the OMH Clinical Standards of Care found on the OMH website at: http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/clinic_restructuring/resources.html and the OMH Standards of Care Anchors, which comprise the instrument which will be used to measure performance for re-certification. These can be found on the OMH website at: http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/clinic_standards/care_anchors.html.

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News from OASAS

New Administrative and Fiscal Guidelines for Providers

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo announced the release of new administrative and fiscal guidelines for OASAS funded providers on March 23, 2010. The purpose of the guidelines is “to ensure a reasonable standard of accountability in the chemical dependency services system and establish a more viable basis for assessing provider compliance with OASAS fiscal requirements.” Later this spring, OASAS plans to launch a new web-based self-assessment instrument for providers to track and evaluate their financial compliance.

 New Medicaid Mondays Training Series

To help providers better prepare for possible Medicaid audits, OASAS has developed a series of four "Medicaid Mondays" webcasts to be conducted from April 19 through July 12, 2010. The training schedule is available online at: http://www.oasas.state.ny.us/admin/hcf/part521/training.cfm, where you can access the registration form.

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New York State Pilots Program to Promote Recovery from Addiction & Mental Health Disorders

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (OASAS), in collaboration with the Center for Practice Innovations at the New York Psychiatric Institute announced the launching of a statewide initiative to promote wellness self-management for adults with both mental health and substance use problems. Coalition agencies involved in this initiative include Samaritan Village, Institute of Community Living (ICL), Urban Pathways and PSCH. For more information, please access the OMH or OASAS websites.

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Coalition Testifies at OMIG Hearing

The State Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations held a hearing called

“Reforming Medicaid: Investigating Current Strategies Targeting Waste, Fraud and Abuse” on Wednesday, March 17, 2010. Testimony provided on behalf of The Coalition pointed out how smaller not-for-profit community-based providers are placed at a disadvantage in proofing themselves from Medicaid audits and investigations. With smaller administrative staffs and older billing systems, providers are prone to committing paperwork errors or omissions. Oftentimes, providers are asked to produce large amount of files dating back 5 or 6 years by auditors.

In the Office of Medicaid Inspector General’s (OMIG) quest to recapture funds paid on the basis of fraud and abuse, auditors are catching small, nonprofit providers in their nets simply for committing technical errors. Moreover, auditors, who many times are unfamiliar with long established State agency standards, interpret these regulations during audits, and extrapolate incidences of error or omission over all of the agency’s claims. This has resulted in severe penalties owed to OMIG. In our testimony, we recommended that the Legislature needs to make OMIG clarify the rules of engagement and allow providers a fair means of exercising their due process rights. Coverage of the hearing was provided in detail by the New York Nonprofit Press.

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CMS Announces Disability Workshops on Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security

The New York Regional Office Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will present Disability Workshops on Fundamentals of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Representatives from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have designed a program especially for agency staff, advocates and organizations who serve disabled populations. Part 1 will be held on May 14, 2010 from 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM; Part 2 will be held on June 25th, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278. Registration begins April 9, 2010.

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CACF to Hold City Advocacy Institute

The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) invites you to their City Advocacy Institute, where City Comptroller John Liu and advocates will speak with you about how to get involved in City budget advocacy and best practices. With looming budget cuts, the city is expected to have a $1.3 billion dollar budget gap. Board, staff, community members and volunteers are invited to join and discuss and learn: 1. What's going on with the city budget; 2. The budget process; and 3. How you can get involved and be effective. The City Advocacy Institute will be held on Thursday, April 1, 2010, from 9 AM to 12 PM at the Asian/Asian American Research Institute of The City University of New York located at 25 West 43rd Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10036. 

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Management Training Series Offered by the Professional Learning Center

The Coalition Fifth Annual Advanced Management Training Series is well under way and seats are still available for the remaining workshops. 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.

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 » 

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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
5782 Data Analyst and Programmer
5785 Early Head Start Director
5788 Compliance Specialist
5787

Director - Life is Precious

5788 Psychiatrists - Part Time
5789 Senior Program Auditor

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