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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
                              May 10, 2010


Budget Extender Bill Includes State Furloughs

In his latest budget extender bill Governor Paterson included a provision to mandate a State workforce furlough. It would require about 100,000 workers to take an unpaid day off during the week of May 17, saving the State $30 million. The State Fiscal Year 2010-11 Budget has been late for over a month now. In order to keep services running, Governor Paterson has submitted budget extenders to the Legislature just about weekly.

Senator John Sampson, Majority Conference Leader, and Speaker Sheldon Silver argue that the furlough is illegal. However, it seems likely that the Legislature will vote today to approve the bill with the furlough to avoid a government shutdown. Union leaders are likely to challenge the State furlough in court should it be enacted, and have planned to protest outside the Capital today.


Mayor Bloomberg Releases Executive Budget with Mental Hygiene & Homeless Services Cuts

On Thursday, May 6, 2010, Mayor Bloomberg presented the City’s FY 2011 Executive Budget. It included significant cutbacks to Mental Hygiene programs in the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). In FY 2011, about $10.5 million will be cut from outreach, advocacy, non-Medicaid reimbursable case management, and medically supervised drug and alcohol outpatient treatment programs which will annualize to $9.5 million in the out years (this is not an additional cut).

The Coalition has learned from DOHMH that it plans to cut 20% of select outreach services while preserving those to particularly underserved populations. Although DOHMH plans to cut net deficit funded supported case management services, Division of Mental Hygiene staff will work with those programs to transition them, where possible, into Medicaid reimbursable case management services.

DOHMH also plans to cut funding from programs that are “underperforming,” closing, and/or programs that have alternative revenue sources. The Department preserved some priority and evidence based program types, at least for now, such as ACT, housing, employment and children’s services.

The Mayor’s Executive Budget calls for cuts to homeless programs in the Department of Homeless Services (DHS). The Coalition is concerned about cuts made to safe havens and stabilization beds. DHS plans to eliminate 40 safe haven beds and 50 stabilization beds for street homeless single adults. The Coalition will continue to work with DHS and DOHMH to evaluate the programmatic impacts of all of the proposed cuts.


Coalition Responds to NY Post Editorial on OMIG Bill

The Coalition’s response to an editorial by the New York Post on a bill to curb the abuses of the NYS Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) was published in the Post on April 22. We wrote a letter to counter the editorial titled “Fraudsters Pal in Albany,” which appeared in the Post on April 17, 2010 that attacked Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, the bill’s sponsor. You can read the unedited letter that The Coalition sent to the Post.

The Coalition took issue with the editorial for its claim that the OMIG bill would help “fraudsters avoid detection.” In actuality, the bill would help the State fight Medicaid fraud while protecting honest providers from aggressive auditing procedures which levy stringent fines on not-for-profits. The bill would instead enable the State to direct OMIG’s resources to those health care providers that are actually cheating the Medicaid system.


Extending Kendra’s Law is Sound Policy for Now

Kendra’s Law, the statute that established New York’s court-ordered called Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program is set to expire in July of this year. The Legislature is now considering two bills, one to make the law permanent, and another to extend it for an additional five years with further study of the program’s efficacy.

The Coalition supports extending Kendra’s Law as proposed in bill # A. 10790 / S. 7254 by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and Senator Thomas Morahan. We believe that the State has yet to fully examine the usefulness of court-ordered programs, like AOT, in comparison to voluntary alternatives. When Kendra’s Law was extended the first time in 2005, the statute mandating its continuation called for an outside study on the effectiveness of the AOT program. It ordered an evaluation of voluntary programs verses involuntary ones, as well as an examination of the geographic and racial disparity among AOT participants.

While the study conducted by Duke University in 2009 found improvements in the outcomes of people participating in the AOT program, it was unable, due to a lack of available data, to determine if court-ordered treatment enhances service engagement in comparison to voluntary programs. However, almost 50% of AOT recipients receive services voluntarily. Voluntary participation is also used more often in counties outside of New York City. The Coalition therefore opposes a competing bill (A. 10421 / S. 7596) to make Kendra’s Law permanent without a complete evaluation of the effectiveness of court-ordered treatment in comparison to voluntary modalities.


Rep. Kennedy Introduces Health Information Technology (HIT) Extension Bill

On April 15, 2010, Representative Kennedy introduced the “Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010” (H.R. 5040). This legislation would extend HIT assistance eligibility to mental health and substance abuse professionals and facilities. Specifically, the bill establishes a behavioral health information technology grant program and extends the list of eligible professionals, hospitals and Medicaid providers for the Medicare and Medicaid HIT incentive payments.  If the bill passes, the list of eligible professionals will include clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric hospitals and mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities that have at least a 10% Medicaid population. By broadening HIT assistance eligibility to behavioral health providers, this legislation will provide crucial support for community behavioral health organizations as they seek to implement electronic health records and exchange data with other entities.

It is crucial that our legislators know that we need this bill to pass. Please call your Representative and ask him or her to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 5040, “Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010”. Not sure who your representative is? Go to our website, http://capwiz.com/cvmha/home/. You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Representative's office.


OMH Proposed Part 599 Clinic Regulations            

The Coalition submitted a response to the recently released OMH regulations on clinic reform (Part 599) on Monday May 3, 2010.   We believe that while the addition of an indigent care pool is laudable and clearly a major and innovative step forward, we are concerned that not enough funding has been set aside to cover the full costs of individual care, both in the indigent care pool and in the rates.

The Coalition expressed further concern that the anticipated regulatory impact will result in considerable losses for many clinics. Jobs and the professional workforce will be negatively impacted, as will providers and consumers, most particularly those in minority and poor communities.

We are deeply concerned that the current reform design will impede equal access for all consumers, particularly those working and middle class consumers with serious mental health problems, to whose care the State has made an historically strong commitment.

The Office of Mental Health (SOMH) is currently reviewing all comments submitted by interested parties.  Should OMH determine that the regulations require modification in a significant way; the regulations will be re-printed in the NYS Register and re-opened for a 30 day public comment period.  

The Coalition is hoping that the weight of the public stakeholder comments will convince OMH to change its stated intention to implement Part 599 as of July 1, 2010. 


Enterprise-Wide Electronic Health Records (EHR) Demonstration

On Wednesday, June 9, 2010, The Coalition will host a demonstration of Defran Systems flagship software suite, Evolv-CS.  Evolv-CS is a robust case, clinical and financial management system specifically designed to meet the needs of behavioral health and other human services providers.

Evolv-CS handles everything from intake and referral to discharge planning, and includes a fully integrated finance management component that operates as an AR/AP sub-ledger to your agency's GL software. Checks and balances help to ensure proper documentation, resulting in a decrease of denied claims and safeguards against OMIG and other payer take-backs.

Please come early and join us for a buffet lunch at 1:00pm.  The demonstration will take place from 1:30 - 4:30pm at The Coalition's offices located at 90 Broad St., 8th Fl.  For more information and registration go to our website:  http://www.coalitionny.org/prof_learn_ctr/training/series.php?series_id=1004.


Questions on Effectiveness of OMH Sex Offender Program Continue to be Asked

The Coalition’s opinion on restructuring the OMH Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SOMTA) was referenced in a May 2, 2010 article posted on the Observer’s website called “Debate Swirls Over Releasing Sex Offenders.” As you might recall, The Coalition wrote an editorial in the January 2009 edition of the New York Nonprofit Press (NYNP) titled “Restructuring OMH Sex Offender Management Program Can Save State Dollars.” In this article, we argued that the clinical success of committing sex offenders to OMH inpatient facilities with intensive hospital-based care is unproven and a very costly program. Moreover, the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SOMTA), authorizing the release of prisoners into the mental health system, increases the stigma of people with mental illness.

The Observer discusses whether sex offender policies are driven by fear or rational responses to address the public’s safety. The article states that a 2007 study by the Florida Institute of Technology concluded that the public perception on sex offender recidivism is higher then actual statistics. The study also concluded that legislatures are influenced by common misperceptions about sex offenders. So are the guidelines of treatment and reintegration programs. With New York facing a $9.2 billion deficit and community-based services at risk for cuts, it may be time for the State to rethink its approach to the SOMTA program.


Around the Water Cooler

Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión is stepping down as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs to become the Regional Director for New York and New Jersey at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Political pundits are wondering if a future mayoral bid is in the offing.

Member Notes

Michael Ostroff has been appointed Chief Development Officer at F·E·G·S, and will oversee the private and corporate philanthropic development efforts.

John Kastan, Vice President of Operations and Managed Care at St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers has accepted the Executive Director position at Peninsula Counseling Center. Congratulations to John, a long time Coalition friend.

Comunilife has received a $167,000 Federal grant to expand its Life is Precious™ suicide prevention program for Latina teens in Brooklyn.

Ryan-NENA and Ryan/Chelsea/Clinton were among the four community health centers to be awarded a total of $4.6 million in HEAL grants that were previously allocated to St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Good Shepherd Services and the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) were awarded Community Reinvestment Program grants from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). The funding will used to provide services to juveniles in their own communities. Good Shepherd Services in the Bronx and Brooklyn will each receive $595,000. CASES in Manhattan was awarded $589,653.

The International Center for the Disabled (ICD) plans to open a new Satellite Mental Health Clinic at the AIDS Service Center of New York. The program will be the first OMH licensed clinic to be located in an HIV center.

Care for the Homeless will hold a summit called “Future Challenges in Homeless Health Care” on Thursday, May 13th, in commemoration of its 25th Anniversary Year with a welcome by the Honorable Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan Borough President. The event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 13, 2010. Breakfast and registration will happen from 8:30am – 9am. Presentations and Q&A sessions with the audience will run from 9:00am – 11:45am. The summit will be held at The William and Anita Newman Conference Center, Baruch College, 151 East 25th Street, Room #750. Space is limited. Please RSVP by calling 212‐366‐4459 ext. 202 or email info@cfhnyc.org.

Online registration is now available for the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Westchester’s Ira S. Stevens 30th Memorial Conference called “Person-Centered Services Part II: On our Own Terms.” The conference will be held on June 2, 2010 at the County Center in White Plains, New York. Speakers include Dr. Michael Hogan, Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and The Coalition’s very own Dr. Courtenay Harding, Director of the Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery. For more information contact Chuck Rosenow at: rosenowc@mhawestchester.org or 914-345-5900 ext. 292. To view the full program schedule, please go to: www.mhawestchester.org.  


Benefits Training at The Center

Title:                  Comprehensive Benefits Management Training
Date:                  June 1-3, 2010
Time:                  9:30am-4:30pm
Facilitator:          Ed Lopez

Three days of FREE intensive training for direct service staff whose positions require expertise in benefits counseling, such as providers working in PROS programs.

Register now at The Center’s web page.

Title:                  Introduction to Benefits Management
Date:                 June 10, 2010
Time:                 1:30pm-4:30pm
Facilitators:        Margie Staker and Patricia Feinberg, MS

FREE half day training designed for 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 at The Center’s web page.

To register for any Center training or presentation, please go to: www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training/

Note: If you are typing the URL in your browser, the space between “the” and “center” is in reality an underscore symbol “_”.    


DOHMH and CUNY to Hold “Drinking Solutions” Symposium on Alcoholism

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health at Hunter College and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will organize a half-day symposium to review the scientific evidence for the relationship between public policies on alcohol, drinking rates and health. The symposium is located at the New York Academy of Medicine on Tuesday May 11, 2010 from 9:30-12:30. Breakfast and registration will open at 8:30am. Please view the full invitation.

Featured presentations by experts on topics of national and international research will be presented on: alcohol advertising (David Jernigan, PhD, Executive Director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth and Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health), alcohol outlet density (Michael Sparks, Policy Director at the Center for Community Action and Training and Trainer for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), alcohol price (Henry Saffer, PhD, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research and Professor at Kean University) and enforcement of alcohol-related laws (Ted Mahony, National Liquor Law Enforcement Association).


Taking the Lead: Cultivating a New Generation of Peer Leadership

Find out how Peer Specialists can use their experiences, creativity and ideas to improve recovery-oriented services to take leadership positions in New York City’s mental health delivery system. Join in the conversation on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at the NYU Kimmel Center for FEGS 4th Annual Peer Specialist Conference. This conference has been specifically designed for Peer Specialists, Peer Advocates, Peer Bridgers, Peer Counselors and Peer Recovery Facilitators. Register online at: http://www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training/registration/registration.php?series_id=1086. For more information, please go to: http://www.fegs.org/fegsenews/enews2010/0428/peerinfo.pdf.


The Mind Your Health Peer Coaching Program: Promoting Health and Wellness

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will hold workshops to select and train twenty-five peer specialists to expand their knowledge in the area of health and wellness from a recovery-oriented, self-management perspective. The workshops will focus on topics such as smoking cessation, metabolic syndrome, nutrition, exercise, medication side effects, and promoting communication and self-advocacy. Throughout the training, peer specialists will learn coaching techniques and skills that will help to effect behavioral change in the people they serve.

These workshops are scheduled from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm on the following dates: Workshop #1: 07/13/10, Workshop #2: 08/03/10, Workshop #3: 08/24/10, Workshop #4: 09/14/10, Workshop #5: 10/05/10, Workshop #6: 10/26/10. For more information about the program, see the Peer Coaching Program Overview. If interested in attending, applications are due by Friday, June 4, 2010. The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery has prepared a Writing Guide to assist prospective participants with writing the application essay.


Happy Mother’s Day (Belated): New Change in Medicare Law May Help Mom

(The following are edited excerpts sent to us by the Social Security Administration, for the full posting please click here. For the full article, please click here)

Perhaps you’ve looked into the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for Mom before, and discovered that she did not qualify due to her income or resources. In 2010, the law has changed. Now Mom must be receiving Medicare and:

  • Have income limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21, 855 for a married couple living together. Even if her annual income is higher, she still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments.
  • Have resources limited to $12,510 for an individual or $25,010 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. We do not count her house or car as resources.

Life insurance policies are no longer counted as a resource; nor are regular income received for financial assistance to pay for household expenses like food, mortgage or rent, utilities or property taxes. 


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5803  Social Worker / LCSW
5804 Medicaid Service Coordinator/Habilitation Counselor
5807 Clinical Review Team Leader - LCSW

Social Worker- LCSW/LMSW Position

5810 Workforce Development Program Manager
5812 Assistance Program Director, HIV/AIDS Transitional Residence



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