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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
                             August 30, 2010


Enhanced FMAP Rate is Extended with Reductions

Federal legislation (HR 1586) enacts a phased-down extension of the enhanced FMAP rate over 6 months, which was originally set to expire on Dec. 31, 2010. The FMAP extension is expected to bring $16.1 billion in additional aid to states. Under the new law, the increase in FMAP rates will be reduced from the current level of 6.2% to 3.2% from January to March 2011, 1.2% from March to June 2011.

Earlier this month, NYS lawmakers approved an FMAP contingency plan to cover more than $1 billion in the budget, should the enhanced rate have ended completely. However, the contingency plan will now only have to cover a $281 million deficit, as estimated by the Division of Budget. It will be implemented as an across the board cut of about 1% to all local assistance funding. This includes Medicaid, General Fund and HCRA expenditures made after September 16, 2010, and through the end of the fiscal year. We do not yet know the details of the impact on behavioral health.


New Change in Insurance Law Mandates Coverage for DWI Emergency Services

Governor David Paterson signed legislation to prohibit insurers from denying payment for emergency services for people injured from driving while intoxicated. Chapter 303 of bill S.7845/A.11116, which will help to advance addiction as a public health issue, was acknowledged by NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Karen Carpenter-Palumbo in a letter sent to providers on August 17, 2010. According to the Commissioner, the law will help increase screenings for drug and alcohol problems during emergency medical treatments, and give more New Yorkers the opportunity of recovery. OASAS has also developed a new impaired driver services section on their website.


HUD 2009 Continuum of Care (CoC) Debriefing Webcast Now Available Online

On August 13, 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) held a debriefing webcast on the 2009 Continuum of Care (CoC) competition. It provided information on scoring distributions, funding, renewals, new projects funded and an analysis of spending on housing versus services. The webcast also reviewed lessons learned from 2009, detailed pro-rata and hold harmless needs, and concluded with information on the 2010 CoC application process. Included in the webcast is a PowerPoint presentation to help guide users through it.


OMH News

Clinic & Ambulatory Restructuring Trainings in September

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) will hold trainings on clinic and ambulatory reform throughout the month of September at various venues across the State. Trainings will occur on September 2, 2010 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. at Long Island at the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, September 8, 2010 at Albany at the Empire State Plaza, September 14 & 15, 2010 in New York City at the at the SUNY School of Optometry, and September 28, 2010 in Rochester at the University of Rochester. Details on locations and the agenda are available through the training registration site. The guidance document on Part 599 regulations is now available online for you to review. 

Draft Version of 2010-2014 State Plan and Public Hearing

OMH has also made available a draft version of its 2010-2014 Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services. On August 24, 2010, Commissioner Michael Hogan will hold a public hearing on the plan in Albany, NY, which will be broadcast in New York City and Syracuse. For details on how to submit comments in writing, or to provide input into the draft plan at one of the hearing sites, please go to: Invitation to Participate in the 5.07 Public Hearing.


Congress Introduces Bills for Behavioral Health HIT Funding

At last, the Senate and House of Representatives have both introduced legislation titled “Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010” (H.R.5040/S.3709). The bills would extend health information technology (HIT) assistance eligibility to behavioral health, mental health and substance abuse professionals and facilities. There are differences between the two bills. Therefore, once each chamber passes legislation, members of Congress will have to negotiate the differences. The key distinctions are as follows: 

  • The House bill includes $15 million in FY 2011 for a grant program that will allow the behavioral health providers to purchase HIT (e.g. electronic health records), train personnel in the use of the new technology, and improve the exchange of health information between behavioral health and primary care providers;
  • The Senate bill would make behavioral health providers eligible for assistance from Health IT Regional Extension Centers.

As the nation’s healthcare system further advances toward using a health information exchange and electronic health records, it is essential that the behavioral health sector be included in the investment of HIT funding. This legislation would provide crucial support, both financially and programmatically, for community-based behavioral health organizations as they seek to advance their HIT capability. It would also ensure that individuals with mental illnesses and addictions have access to the overall health benefits of provider usage of HIT.


Around the Water Cooler

The Coalition’s Center Director, Courtenay Harding, along with Swiss psychiatrist, Luc Ciompi, and Finnish psychiatrist, Klaus Lehtinen published an editorial in the May issue of the Schizophrenia Bulletin, entitled “Deep Concern.” The topic was on wrongful incarceration for misdemeanors in prisons and jails based on the assumptions that schizophrenia is nothing but a chronic debilitating disease with little hope of reclaiming a life and full citizenship.” (pg. 437). A call for more political action was issued. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 36 (3), 437-439, 2010.

Riverdale Mental Health Association is gearing up for its 2nd Annual 5K Run/Walk on September 26, 2010, at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Entry forms can be downloaded at www.rmha.org/news-events/. For more information, e-mail 5krunwalk@rmha.org. Elected officials who are sponsoring the event are Representative Eliot Engel, Senators Eric Schneiderman, Jeffrey Klein, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, Council Member G. Oliver Koppell and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

Community Healthcare Network has appointed Peter J. Tesler, M.D., M.P.H. as Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs. Prior to arriving at Community Healthcare Network, Dr. Tesler has most recently been a Medical Director at the Manhattan's Physician Group.

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month: You can check out Recovery Month news and information at http://www.recoverymonth.gov/. The Recovery Month website aims to promote the societal benefits of alcohol and drug use disorder treatment, laud the contributions of treatment providers, and promote the message that recovery from alcohol and drug disorders in all its forms is possible.

This fall, the Geriatric Mental Health Alliance of New York will offer three webinars that are suitable for mental health, health and aging service providers, caregivers and anyone else who works on behalf of older adults. All webinars cost $25. Continuing education credits are available for social workers. To find out more about these webinars and to register, please go to:  http://www.mhaofnyc.org/advocacy/geriatric-mental-health-alliance-of-new-york/upcoming-events.aspx.

Dennis Norton, Deputy Director of the New York State Division of Budget (DOB), will retire at the end of this month. The Coalition was pleased to work with this knowledgeable and thoroughly competent State official. In a note to him, Coalition’s Executive Director, Phillip Saperia, wished him “a happy, fulfilling and productive retirement.”Throughout much of his career, Mr. Norton oversaw the budgeting Medicaid and other health care programs. He has served as Deputy Director at DOB for more than 31 years.

An article highlighting the expansion of peer-run counseling programs at City Health and Hospital Corporation (HHC) hospitals appeared in the Daily News on Monday, August 9, 2010.

Patricia Feinberg and Margie Staker of The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery have been granted authority by the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) to directly submit applications for the Medicaid Buy-In for Working People with Disabilities (MBI-WPD) program. Through partnering with HRA, The Coalition will be able to facilitate more enrollment of eligible applicants.


Senators Baucus & Grassley Announce Need for Better CMS Oversight of Medicaid Managed Care Contracts

On August 4, 2010, Senators Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley released a statement in response to the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report “Medicaid Managed Care: CMS's Oversight of States' Rate Setting Needs Improvement” (GAO-10-810). The GAO report found that CMS has been inconsistent in reviewing how states set rates for Medicaid Managed Care and several other gaps in oversight. In their statement, Senators Baucus and Grassley said “CMS needs to improve oversight to ensure states are paying accurate rates when contracting with private insurance companies to provide health coverage to Medicaid beneficiaries”. Senator Baucus added, “To protect Medicaid, we need to ensure states are paying an appropriate price for the benefits private plans deliver…this report makes clear that the agency needs to be more aggressive in its oversight of state contracts to ensure that care is coming at an accurate price.” Both Senators expressed their commitment to monitor this issue to ensure that CMS makes the necessary improvements.


NYS Health Insurance Plan for People with Pre-Existing Conditions Accepts Applications

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was enacted to temporarily make coverage available to individuals who have a pre-existing medical condition, have not had insurance for six months and are legal residents of the United States and New York State. In New York State, GHI, an EmblemHealth company, will operate a PCIP called the NY Bridge Plan. It is an Exclusive Provider Option (EPO), which means that you must use doctors and health care providers who are in the GHI EPO network, except in cases of emergency or when care is not available through a participating provider.

Among other categories, Nervous/Mental/Behavioral disorders are listed as eligible pre-existing conditions.  They include: Panic Disorders, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Eating Disorders, Anorexia or Bulimia; and Alcohol/Chemical Dependency.

PCIP plans will operate until the year 2014, at which time other provisions of health care reform will go into effect and state health benefits exchanges will be available for individuals to purchase coverage.  Applications and additional information can be found in the on the website www.nybridgeplan.com.


Coalition to Host EMR Demonstration

The Coalition will be hosting a comprehensive demonstration of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) for Behavioral Health by Accumedic on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 9:30am – 12:30pm. Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 9:00 am. AccuMed™ EMR features include:

  • Form Designer (customize any form, including NYS OMH and OASAS Forms)
  • Treatment Plans, Intake, Progress and Discharge Notes (Individual & Groups)
  • ePrescription and eLabs
  • Case Load Management
  • Alerts, Tasks, and Reminders
  • Robust Appointment Scheduler

AccuMed™ EMR can be accessed from anywhere. It enables clinicians to easily manage the entire process from the initial appointment to electronic clinical documentation and the creation of accurate and compliant claims.

Register online at http://www.coalitionny.org/prof_learn_ctr/training/series.php?series_id=1004.


Coalition Signs on in Support of City Charter Recommendations

The Coalition has signed on to a letter drafted by the Human Services Council (HSC), which suggests two recommendations to the NYC Charter Revision Commission. It proposes: 1) a single audit for providers with multiple City contracts, and (2) a standard and reasonable overhead rate for providers with City contracts. These actions would not only help nonprofit human service providers become more efficient, but do so without diminishing their accountability.


MHA of NYC Calls on Governor to Sign Veterans Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Act

The Mental Health Association of New York City has sent out advocacy alerts to urge Governor Paterson to sign the Veterans Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Act (A.11098/S.7961). The Coalition had signed on in support of this bill, which was also passed by the Assembly and Senate with overwhelming majorities. It calls on New York State to create a comprehensive, long-term plan to address the mental health and substance abuse needs of veterans, current service members and their families. To take action, please follow this link: http://capwiz.com/mhaofnyc/issues/alert/?alertid=16065531&queueid=5671733101.


SAMHSA Announces Guidelines for Registry on Evidence-Based Practices

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has provided guidance for those interested in submitting programs and practices to its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). The notice is published in the August 18, 2010 Federal Register. Interested parties can review the complete Federal Register notice by going to the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices web page on the SAMHSA home page at: http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/.


Social Security Administration Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Video Contest

Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue has drafted a letter commemorating the 75th anniversary of Social Security. On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Over the decades, Social Security expanded to not only protect against the risk of poverty in old age, but also the economic risk of career-ending disability and the premature death of a worker. In honor of the anniversary, SSA is organizing a video contest. To submit a YouTube video, please go to: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/open/contest/index.html.


Coalition Member Sponsored Events

Coalition Members advertise Events for free on The Coalition’s Member Sponsored Event Board!  Here's a sample:

Date  Event Title

MHA on the move: Run/Walk!

10.17.2010 MHA on the move: Celebration - An Evening of Inspiration!


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5878 Part Time Quality Improvement Manager
5882 Vice President, Business Operations-Behavioral Health Services

Social Worker / LCSW


Site Director

5887 Service Coordinator
5889 Psychiatrist - Adult and/or Child



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