An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Behavioral Health in New York
December 21 , 2010
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The Coalition wishes you a very happy holiday season and thanks you for your loyal reading of Coalition Briefs. We look forward to continue reporting to you on the pertinent issues that affect the community-based behavioral health system in the New Year. Of course we could not do all of this and more without the support of readers like you. In every neighborhood of New York City, Westchester and environs, Coalition members continue to provide lifesaving services (treatment, support, prevention, diversion, and recovery). Please help us continue to do our work for community-based behavioral health services by donating today! Every little bit helps make a difference.
Governor-Elect Cuomo Announces Second Round of Appointments
On Thursday, December 16, 2010, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo announced the following senior staff appointments. Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH was nominated to serve as the Commissioner of the Department of Health (DOH). Dr. Shah is described by the Cuomo transition team as one who is focused on improving patient outcomes and the effectiveness and efficiency of care, as well as leading the way for lower-cost, patient centered care. In addition, Dr. Shah serves as a general internist at Bellevue Hospital, and, according to the Cuomo team, “knows firsthand the impact on vulnerable populations of inadequate resources.” We are still deciphering what this appointment means for the community-based behavioral health system, although we remain hopeful.
Governor-elect Cuomo also appointed Paul T. Williams Jr. to continue as the Executive Director and President of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, Sabrina M. Ty to serve as Deputy Secretary of Legislative Affairs, and Linda A. Lacewell as Special Assistant to the Governor. Ms. Ty currently serves as Legislative Counsel to Speaker Silver in the NYS Assembly, where she oversees the development of all major programmatic legislation and plays a lead role in annual budget negotiations.
Coalition Testifies at Senate Finance Budget Oversight Hearing
The Coalition testified at a State Senate Finance hearing called “Putting a Face on Budget Cuts,” on Monday, December 13, 2010. It was chaired by Senator Carl Kruger. In our testimony, we showed how each successive round of budget cuts to community-based behavioral health services run by nonprofits, impacts on the most vulnerable consumers. Each time the State cuts funding to community-based programs, it is the consumers who wind up with increasingly limited access to services. Rather than saving the State money, budget cuts make it more likely that consumers will cycle through more expensive systems like emergency rooms, inpatient care, homeless shelters or prisons. Senator Kruger responded to our testimony by explaining how The Coalition can play an important role in helping the Finance Committee put a face on the clients who are impacted by budget cuts. We look forward to working with Senator Kruger and other members of the Finance Committee to help protect community-based behavioral health services, and the people who rely on them, from future rounds of cuts.
OASAS Announces New Standards to Attract More Addiction Professionals
On December 16, 2010, NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo announced changes to credentialing standards for addiction professionals. They apply to professionals who are certified to provide alcohol and substance abuse prevention and counseling services, and for counselors who treat individuals with problem gambling disorders. Part 853 – Credentialing of Addictions Professionals introduces a number of important new changes that are expected to draw the attention of potential job seekers, both at the entry level, as well as from those who are considering second career or post retirement employment opportunities. These include the: creation of a new professional credential for counselors who specialize in treating problem gambling disorders; broadening the definition of "approved work setting" to ensure that individuals who work in related fields may earn qualifying work experience for an OASAS credential; removing the 10-year limitation on qualifying education and work experience so that second career candidates and retired persons may pursue and become eligible for an OASAS credential; and the granting credit for six months of work experience toward acquisition of an Associate’s Degree in a Human Services field. For more information on the new credentialing standards, please click here: http://www.oasas.state.ny.us/pio/press/20101216NewCredentials.cfm.
Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) have introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act (S. 4035) on December 16, 2010. It would require the Federal government to establish criteria for an organization to qualify as a Community Behavioral Health Center (CBHC), and enhance Medicaid reimbursement. The bill also includes provisions to increase resources for behavioral health providers to adopt health information technology (HIT), make capital improvements, provide for telemedicine services, and become eligible for discounted medicines. The Coalition applauds Senators Stabenow and Reed, and their efforts to bring the community-based behavioral health sector in-line with the minimum standards available to primary health providers. A similar bill (the Mental Health and Addiction Safety Net Equity Act –HR 5636), was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 29, 2010, by Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) to establish Federally Qualified Behavioral Health Centers (FQBHC) and require Medicaid coverage for the services provided by them.
Judge Henry E. Hudson of Federal District Court in Richmond ruled on December 13, 2010, that the provision that requires individuals to purchase health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or the healthcare reform law, is unconstitutional. While this ruling is a potential setback for the healthcare reform law, it will not stop the implementation of healthcare reform for now. In fact, it will likely take two years for such a case to make its way through the Supreme Court, where the justices will decide on whether the individual mandate for coverage in the law violates Congress’ powers to regulate interstate commerce.
The individual mandate has been contested in two other cases (one in Detroit, Michigan, and the other in Lynchburg, Virginia), where it was upheld. There is also a case pending in Pensacola, Florida, which challenges both the constitutionality of the individual mandate clause and the law’s expansion of State Medicaid rolls. Twenty states have already joined this lawsuit. The mandate to buy insurance is a key part of healthcare reform, which would allow over 30 million people who are uninsured to be covered. By requiring healthy people to buy insurance, it is argued that the system would be able to cover the expenses of people with costly medical conditions. Currently, in many cases, uncompensated care is provided in more expensive systems, like emergency rooms, and the cost passed on throughout the healthcare system and to taxpayers – $43 billion in total was accumulated in 2008 according to a statement released by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Katherine Sebelius of Health and Human Services (HHS).
F.E.G.S Health and Human Services System was chosen as Nonprofit Developer of the Year by the New York Housing Conference and the National Housing Conference. F.E.G.S received the award at their 37th Annual Awards Luncheon called Solutions for a New Landscape on December 9, 2010.
Safe Space has launched a new treatment program called “Redirections.” It is designed to help juvenile offenders, ages 12-17, with making better life choices and achieving better futures. The program will be operated out of Safe Space’s new headquarters at 89-74 162nd Street in Jamaica, Queens.
Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA) and The Guidance Center were among 10 Westchester recipients of grants from the New York Life Foundation to support nonprofits that target young people. JCCA was awarded $40,000 to help fund its mentoring program, a residential program that helps teen victims of abuse or neglect find mentors that provide positive adult role models. The Guidance Center will receive $25,000 to support the College and Career Center for Teens, which serves youth who are struggling in school and lack college readiness and work skills.
SAMHSA’s Recovery to Practice (RTP) Live Meeting is now available online as a PowerPoint presentation and Webinar. “Step 1 in the Recovery-Oriented Care Continuum: Outreach & Engagement,” can be downloaded on the RTP Resource Website at: http://www.dsgonline.com/rtp/resources.html.
Training at the Center
“Inspiring Stories and Recovery Research: Hope and Resilience for Staff”
On January 20, 2011, The Coalition’s Center for Recovery and Rehabilitation will hold a half day training facilitated by Dr. Courtenay Harding titled “Inspiring Stories and Recovery Research: Hope and Resilience for Staff.” This training will provide evidence from the eleven long-term studies of serious and persistent psychiatric problems, which revealed that most people can significantly improve and many even recover over time. The stories about how staff participated in helping people reclaim their lives inspire us all. Dr. Harding will show how hope, temperament, and human resilience of both staff and consumers all play roles in the recovery process. This training will take place at the Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery from 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM. For more information and to register, please go to: http://www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training/series.php?series_id=1126.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the availability of funds for supportive services grants under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (SSVF Program). A Notice of Fund Availability (NOFA) was published in the Federal Register on December 17, 2010, on the SSVF Program, the application process, and the amount of funding available. Please visit the SSVF Program Web Site to download a copy of the application, view a webcast discussing the NOFA and application, and learn about grant-writing workshops taking place in January. Applications for assistance under the SSVF Program must be received by the SSVF Program Office by 4 p.m. Eastern Time on March 11, 2011, in accordance with the requirements set forth in the NOFA and the application.
Coalition Signs-on to Support Bill to Improve Prescription Medication Access
The Coalition has signed-on in support of a bill (A11627/S8365) to improve patient safety and access to prescription medication across New York State. This legislation is sponsored by Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Senator Thomas Duane. If passed, the bill would authorize the creation of standardized prescription drug labels and ensure translation/interpretation services are provided by chain pharmacies. Unintended misuse of prescription medications results in millions of people each year to have “adverse drug events” that lead to increased emergency room visits, hospitalizations or even death. According to a fact sheet put out by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, 22% of all hospitalizations nationwide are caused by patient non-adherence with prescription instructions due to low levels of health literacy and other factors, and costs an extra $300 billion annually in healthcare spending. This problem places additional burdens on already under-resourced emergency rooms and hospitals and costs an extra $300 billion per year in healthcare spending.” Please click here to join the growing list of supporters.
Coalition Members advertise staff positions for free on The Coalition’s Job Board! Here's a sample: