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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
                             November 29, 2010


State Legislature Convenes for Extraordinary Session to Tackle $315M Deficit

Governor David A. Paterson has called the State Legislature back to Albany for an extraordinary session on Monday, November 29, 2010. On the agenda is “reducing expenditures for the 2010-11 Budget.” Although not specific, this item is about seeking authorization from the Legislature to cut $315M to fill the deficit in the current fiscal year 2010-11 budget. According to a report issued by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the deficit is a result of lower than expected revenues from income tax collections, the inability of New York to collect nearly $150M in sales taxes, and increases in Medicaid spending. The agenda also includes eliminating the notification requirement prior to closing State facilities. The State currently has to provide a year notice before closing prison and juvenile facilities, even if there are no inmates occupying them. The State wastes millions of dollars a year keeping empty prisons open. It is not certain that the full Legislature will be present, as holding a lame duck session involves the return of incumbents who lost their seats in the November election. This could make it even harder for the Democrats in the Senate to reach a majority, who only control the Senate by a 32-30 margin. While the Governor can call State legislators back to Albany, they are not obliged to act. Stay tuned for more updates.


Mayor Bloomberg Releases November Budget Plan with Behavioral Health Cuts

Mayor Bloomberg released the City’s November 2010 Financial Plan on Thursday, November 18, 2010. Overall, the Plan will cut the current fiscal year (FY11) budget by $585M and include cuts in the next fiscal year (FY12) of $1B. Because the deficit for FY12 is $3.3B, you can expect to see more cuts in the January and Executive Budget Plans. The Mayor’s November Financial plan can be found online at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/omb/downloads/pdf/peg11_10.pdf

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will cut “Mental Hygiene Contracted Services” at $1.9M in FY11 and $4.9M in FY12 and the out years. Cuts will be made to targeted mental health programs and “alcohol/substance abuse outpatient treatment” programs. City funding for “mental retardation/developmental disabilities” clinics will be eliminated. The Department also plans to reduce funding for its intra-city agreements with DHS, HRA, CUNY and HHC. Included in the cuts to HHC are mental health and substance abuse program reductions. Unfortunately, City officials have not released specific details about which Mental Hygiene contracts will be cut. The Coalition is vigilantly trying to confirm more information and will keep you posted.

In the City Council’s response to the November Financial Plan, Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. pointed out that the Department could save $4M in City funding by eliminating non-core program evaluations.

Homeless Services

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) proposes to save City funding through the redesign of performance-based contracts, increase reimbursements and revenues, and implement a prevention services program. DHS proposes to save a total of $3.3M in FY12 and $3.8M in FY13 through changes made to the contracting systems for adult shelters, family shelters participating in the Graduated Payment System, and family hotel providers. According to DHS, providers will have 4 contracting closeout periods instead of 1 each year, and greater consequences for not reaching certain performance thresholds (e.g. 15% funding loss instead of 10%).  DHS also plans to save City funding by increasing emergency assistance revenue for outreach and drop in services at $700K in FY11, and $1.3M in FY12 and the out years. DHS plans to generate an additional $7M in State home relief fund claims through the enrollment of more individuals in public assistance services. DHS will also implement a diversion program to save $2M in FY12 and out, by expanding homeless prevention services to help keep adult shelter applicants in community-based settings.

As the City Council holds hearings on the November Plan, and we obtain more information from City officials, Coalition staff will clarify the impact of these initiatives.


Governor-Elect Cuomo Finalizes Transition Teams

On Tuesday, November 16, 2010, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has announced his final three transition committees to fill top-level personnel for his Administration. The Committees are titled: Health and Education, Transportation and Infrastructure, and State and Local Government Reform. The Health & Education Committee includes representatives from 2 Coalition Members: Tino Hernandez, President and C.E.O., Samaritan Village and Carol Raphael, President and C.E.O., NYC Visiting Nurses Association. Previously, Governor-elect Cuomo announced the formation of the Public Safety, Environment and Energy and Recreation, and Human Services and Housing committees. News on transition can be found online at: http://www.andrewcuomo.com/worksforny/press. It is notable and disquieting that very few leaders from the behavioral health community are represented on the administration’s transition teams.


NYAM & DPA Hold Drug Policy Forum at The Coalition

On November 8, 2010, The New York Academy of Medicine and the Drug Policy Alliance held a round-table discussion with Coalition members to help develop a blueprint for a public health and safety approach to drug policy in New York State. The forum was guided by the four pillars of comprehensive drug policy: prevention, harm reduction, treatment and public safety. Members noted the difficulties coordinating services across different systems, complying with competing mandates between government agencies, and inconsistent policing across communities. NYAM and DPA plan to incorporate the outcomes of the meeting into a white paper for policymakers. It is important that future drug policy advocacy in New York State continue to include input from the community-based substance abuse and mental health sector.


CMS Issues Preliminary Guidance on Health Homes

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter on November 16, 2010, to provide preliminary guidance on the development of State Plan Amendments for health homes. Health homes, are models of coordinated care for individuals with chronic conditions, and were highlighted in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is the Federal healthcare reform law. On page 3 of the letter, CMS talks about the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Primary Care and Behavioral Health Care Integration (PBHCI) program. It was launched in 2009 to coordinate and integrate primary health care with mental health services in community-based settings. CMS will require States to consult with SAMHSA as they develop health home initiatives (page 11).

Both CMS and SAMHSA encourage States to coordinate with their “behavioral health authorities” on current efforts to integrate primary care with behavioral health. CMS notes the importance of the “whole person” approach of health homes and how behavioral health needs should be included. SAMHSA also wrote about health homes, the coordination of care with behavioral health services in a recent communication. In another article published in “Preventing Chronic Disease,” titled “Making Room for Mental Health in the Medical Home,” Michael F. Hogan, PhD; Lloyd Sederer, MD; Thomas E. Smith, MD; and Ilana R. Nossel, MD write about how healthcare reform emphasizes medical homes, but mental health services are often left out of the discussion.

Around the Water Cooler

The Coalition welcomes Achraf Sayem as its new Chief Financial Officer. Achraf brings 16 years experience in accounting, auditing and budgeting for not-for-profits. We look forward to working closely with him in the coming months and years. The Coalition expresses its sincere gratitude to Steve Cohen, who emerged from retirement to act as Interim CFO, and helped recruit and orient Achraf. In the picture, Steve officially turns over his CFO duties to Achraf with a handshake.

GWS_6515SP1 EThe Coalition congratulates Carmen Collado, Director of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs at the Jewish Board for Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), on her appointment to the New York State Board for Social Work. In this capacity, Carmen will advise and assist the Board of Regents and the State Education Department on matters of professional regulation for a term of 5 years.

 Member Programs and Funding Awards

ICD (International Center for the Disabled) has expanded and renamed its vocational rehabilitation program. It now includes training in green building and construction, and digital printing and document management. In honor of a longtime trustee who passed away earlier this year, the program was renamed the David L. Mitchell Center for Rehabilitation.

Odyssey House received a $25,000 grant from Aetna to develop a new health and wellness initiative called the Creating Healthy Eating Families (CHEF). CHEF will provide hands-on nutrition and cooking classes for mothers living with their children in the Odyssey House Family Centers. Odyssey House plans to use the grant to help improve the basic nutrition and eating habits of mothers and children.

F.E.G.S Health and Human Services was awarded a total of $175,000 in grants to support its Academy program, which provides educational, career and supportive services to youth aging out of foster care.  FEGS will receive $50,000 apiece from the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation and the Joseph LeRoy and Ann C. Warner Fund, and $75,000 from the Andrus Family Fund.

Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS)
 received a $10,000 grant for its Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Education and Support Program from the CJ Foundation for SIDS. The funding will augment 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. This outreach targets pregnant women, new mothers, staff at day care/child care centers, medical centers, clinics, caregivers of infants and visiting nurse staff.

Member Events

The Puerto Rican Family Institute announces the grand opening of Mariposa Thrift Shop on Thursday, December 2, 2010, from 3:00 – 5:00 at 502A East Tremont Avenue, Bronx, New York, 10457. Refreshments will be served. To RSVP, please contact Migdalia Rivera Taratunio at (212) 414-7835 or mrivera@prfi.org; or Lourdes Sanchez at (718) 299-3045 or lsanchez@prfi.org.

Services for the UnderServed (SUS) and JWT hosted a private screening on November 9, 2010, of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize Award winning documentary Restrepo to raise funds for its veterans services programs. Approximately 100 people turned out for the event which was held at the JWT corporate offices. SUS was also featured in the New York Times to highlight its Knickerbocker Residence in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which provides single-room residences for homeless veterans.  

The Mental Health Association (MHA) of Westchester County raised over $260,000 for the agency’s programs and services at its “MHA on the move Celebration: An Evening of Inspiration!” on October 7, 2010. The event was attended by Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

YAI held its Benefit for Hope Gala on November 17, 2010, and raised a record-breaking $1.75 million to fund services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Nearly 650 YAI Network supporters turned out for this event.


Demonstration of EMR and Practice Management System at Coalition

On December 15, IMA will present an interactive demonstration of the latest version of the IMA EMR and Practice Management system.

A major focus of this year's presentation will be how the IMA system helps organizations cope with the many changes that are occurring around us.  It provides for:

  • Efficient handling of the Clinic Restructuring and APG Billing changes 
  • Comprehensive PROS system that has been fully functional for more than 2 years now
  • A full EMR system that includes forms expected to be certified  by NYSCRI
  • Meaningful Use features that will be certified to be eligible for ARRA Federal Stimulus Funds incentives. 

IMA is dedicated exclusively to the unique requirements of New York State programs regulated by OMH, OASAS and OMRDD. They understand and support the unique nature of programs like Article 31 clinics, Continuing Day Treatment, Case Management, Residential Restorative Services, ACT and PROS. 

The IMA software has been used for many years by behavioral healthcare organizations throughout New York State, many of them Coalition members. They range from small independent clinics to large multidisciplinary social service agencies.

On December 15 from 12:30 - 4:30pm, you will have an opportunity to find out how the IMA software  and the IMA team can meet your own unique needs.  Lunch will be served at 12:30pm.  Register online now to save your seat!


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5957 Court Representative
5958 Director of Quality Improvement

Managing Director - Residential Services


Utilization Review Specialist

5965 Clinic Director
5969 Bilingual Social Worker



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