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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 11, 2011


Coalition Advocacy Days

The Coalition blanketed Albany on Monday, March 7th and Tuesday, March 8th, with almost 50 meetings with Executive leadership, Senators and Assembly Members. We reiterated our support for Medicaid redesign proposal #93, establishing regional behavioral health organizations (BHOs). The BHOs will manage carved-out behavioral health services not currently covered under the state’s Medicaid managed care plans. The BHO will also be responsible for managing, and hopefully lowering utilization of inpatient care. We expressed concern about Medicaid redesign proposal #26, posed as a utilization review. Instead, this provision would set across-the- board thresholds, resulting in actual rate cuts. We propose the institution of an authentic utilization review process that would reflect the State’s emphasis on personalized need and services. Some consumers episodically require periods of intensive service. Moreover, these rate cuts, which might result in less community based service availability, would contradict the whole philosophy of the MRT redesign proposals to lower the costs of high users of inpatient and emergency services.

Coalition members and staff held discussions with legislators on limiting the scope of the NYS Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) by supporting legislation to set fair auditing standards and procedures. We also focused on the value of residential services by opposing the cuts to eliminate the Family Based Treatment (FBT) and Supportive Housing for Families and Young Adults (SHFYA) programs. To see The Coalition’s advocacy materials, click here.


OMH, OASAS & OPWDD Hold Meeting on SAGE Commission

On Monday, March 8, 2011, The Coalition attended a meeting on the Governor Cuomo’s SAGE (Spending and Government Efficiency) Commission held at the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH), and also convened by the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the NYS Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The purpose of the SAGE Commission is to increase government efficiency, maintain quality and save money. The theory behind SAGE is to create a plan to overcome cross cutting policy issues and cut through bureaucratic and regulatory impediments to cooperative action.

The SAGE Commission is organized in 3 tiers: Governor appointees (SAGE Commissioners), agency Commissioners and work groups of high level State officials. There is one work group set up to examine the function of OMH, OASAS, OPWDD, SOFA, and DOH, and it is being chaired by Bruce Feig of OMH. Courtney Burke, Acting Commissioner of OPWDD will coordinate the work of agency Commissioners. Ms. Burke attended the stakeholder meeting, along with Kathleen Caggiano-Siino, Deputy Executive Commissioner of OASAS. Commissioner Michael Hogan of OMH led the meeting.

We learned that there are several possible outcomes that could emerge from this process, such as the creation of a secretariat to coordinate the direction of policy and programs across certain agencies, and the alignment or merger of functions/agencies where there is major overlap. These arrangements could include an amalgamation of “back office” functions such as IT, legal, or the consolidation of regulatory functions like compliance and quality assurance. A questionnaire was circulated to gather stakeholder recommendations, which The Coalition has distributed to our members. We will compile responses and submit to the Commissioners. The SAGE Commission is expected to deliver its findings to Governor Cuomo by May 1st.


Support Grows to Extend Tax on High Income Earners

Assembly Democrats said that they will seek passage of a budget bill that will include an extension of the tax increase on high income earners. The so called “millionaire” tax is set to expire at the end of this month, and is estimated to cost the state $1B this year, and up to $5B next year. On March 2, 2010, 69 Democratic Assembly Members (including Assembly Member Cathy Nolan of Queens who led the drive) delivered a letter to Speaker Silver stating their support for an extension of the tax increase. After meeting with Governor Cuomo and informing him of the chamber’s support for the tax surcharge, Speaker Silver released a statement on March 7, 2011, stating his support as well. In addition, 42 Democratic elected officials from New York City (including City Council Members) sent a letter to Governor Cuomo asking him to reconsider his opposition to the personal income tax (PIT) on high income earners.

Previously, 20 Senate Democrats led by Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx submitted a similar letter to Governor Cuomo to show their support for the PIT increase. While Senate Republicans are largely opposed to extending it, Senator John Bonacic intends to introduce a bill to extend the tax increase on those making at least $1 million a year. The high income earner tax surcharge was passed in 2009 to increase the state income tax to 7.85% for a single taxpayer earning between $200,000 and $500,000, and 8.97% for taxpayers making more than $500,000. If the tax sunsets as scheduled, the top tax rate would return to 6.85%.


Arlene Gonzalez- Sanchez Confirmed as Commissioner of OASAS

The Coalition congratulates Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez who was unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate as Commissioner of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on March 1, 2011. Ms. Gonzalez-Sanchez is a member of the Medicaid Redesign Team which submitted its reform recommendations to Governor Cuomo on February 25, 2011.

Most recently, Ms. Gonzalez-Sanchez served as the Commissioner and Director of Community Services at the Nassau County Department of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities Services, after working for two years as the Deputy Commissioner. She is also the Co-Chair of Nassau County's Health Disparity Task Force. Under Gonzalez-Sanchez, Nassau County consolidated mental health, developmental disabilities, and drug and alcohol addiction services.

Prior to working for Nassau County, Ms. Gonzalez-Sanchez served at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for a decade. During her tenure, Ms. Gonzalez-Sanchez was an Associate Commissioner/NYC Regional Director, Assistant Commissioner/Regional Director for the Boroughs of the Bronx and Queens, the Director of Planning and Project Management and a senior consultant.


Courtney Burke Appointed to Commissioner of OPWDD

On March 7, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the nomination of Courtney Burke as Commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Courtney Burke is director of the Rockefeller Institute's New York State Health Policy Research Center, where she oversees all health policy research projects at the Institute and is the project director for the Institute's recent research on county variations in Medicaid long-term care. The Rockefeller Institute is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York.

Ms. Burke previously worked for six years as the senior research scientist in the health and Medicaid studies program at the Institute. Her research focuses primarily on health policy issues related to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), health reform and private insurance coverage. She also has written about nonprofit organizations' dependence on Medicaid funding and the effects of the state fiscal crises on nonprofits.

Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Burke was employed by the New York State Office of Advocate for Persons with Disabilities for several years, including as the senior policy analyst, and by the New York State Department of Health. She was named one of The Business Review's (Capital Region) "40 Under Forty" honorees for 2010.


Center Trainings

 “LIFELINES: Ways to Engage People Into PROS”

On March 24, 2011, The Coalition’s Center for Recovery and Rehabilitation will hold a half day training facilitated by Dr. Courtenay Harding titled “LIFELINES: Ways to Engage People Into PROS.” In this workshop Dr. Harding will focus on engaging or re-engaging consumers into PROS services. Workshop participants will receive hands-on practice with this process, which is fun to do no matter who one interviews be it your own grandmother or even a date. Consumers like it because it done in a collaborative manner head to head with the clinician and they get to take a copy home for themselves. LIFELINES promotes two events: 1) quickly builds the beginnings of a relationship between participant and the clinician; and 2) documents a life lived.  This short instrument has been taught and used across the world.  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/registration/registration.php?series_id=1142

“Recovering Together: Introduction to Group Work”

The Center will present a full-day training on March 29th, 2011 entitled, “Recovering Together: Introduction to Group Work,” facilitated by Aaron Vieira, LMSW. This training is designed for mental health practitioners who seek to harness the power of groups to support individuals in their recovery. The training may be of particular interest to providers of Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) since group work is the main service modality in PROS programs. Participants will be introduced to theoretical concepts and fundamental skills essential for leading various types of groups, including knowledge-based, skills-based and therapy groups.  It will take place at the Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM.  For more information and to register, please go to: http://www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training/registration/registration.php?series_id=1128

“3- Day Comprehensive Benefits Management Training—Save the Date”

From April 5th through April 7th, the Center will provide a “Comprehensive Benefits Management” training, facilitated by Ed Lopez-Soto, Esq.  This three day intensive training is designed for direct service staff whose positions require expertise in benefits counseling, such as providers working in PROS programs. Participants will learn how to utilize the Social Security Administration’s work incentive provisions to help consumers achieve their employment goals. Our expert trainer will discuss how recent legislative changes may affect consumers. Participants will have an opportunity to apply newly acquired systems knowledge through in-depth case studies. It will take place at the Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM for each of the three days.  Please continue to check the Center’s website for registration information: http://www.coalitionny.org/the_center/about_us/


Around the Water Cooler

The Coalition congratulates Peter Campanelli, President and CEO of the Institute for Community Living (ICL) on his award for Visionary Leadership. It will be presented to him as part of the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare’s 2011 Awards of Excellence at the Celebration of Excellence Dinner in San Diego, CA. Peter is a former President of The Coalition and continues to be an active member.

Frank Muñoz, Deputy Commissioner for the Office of the Professions, has announced his retirement from the Office of Professions at the State Education Department effective March 25, 2011. His last day in the office will be March 18, 2011. The Coalition deeply appreciates the work Frank has done in his tenure. We have had the distinct pleasure of working with him on professional licensing issues in Albany, at The Coalition, and during a lively and enlightening day in the field touring Coalition agencies. We wish him the best of luck.

The Coalition sends its condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Richard Daines, former Commissioner of the NYS Department of Health (DOH). Dr. Daines passed away suddenly on Saturday, February 26, 2011. Dr. Daines was appointed health commissioner by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and served from 2007 to 2010. He had recently accepted an appointment as a visiting scholar at the New York Academy of Medicine.

F•E•G•S Health and Human Services System was named "Agency of the Year" by the New York State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). F•E•G•S was recognized for its diverse and expansive Long Island services, which assist more than 25,000 adults, children, and families each year throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties, providing behavioral health outpatient services, family services, food pantries, HIV/AIDs and family violence initiatives, end of life care, employment, residential and volunteer services. The award will be presented to at the NASW New York State Chapter's Spirit of Social Work Awards Luncheon in Albany on March 11.

The Coalition congratulates Sue Kelly on her appointment to Executive Deputy Commissioner at the NYS Department of Health (DOH), which was announced by Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., on March 3, 2011. Sue Kelly has more than 25 years of senior management experience in public and private health systems, public policy development and program implementation. Most recently, she served as the Associate Regional Administrator for the New York office of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) and Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA), recently held a fundraiser for their POINT (Pursing Our Independence Together) program hosted by Bloomingdale's in White Plains. The sold-out brunch featured Lizandra Vega, author of "The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want. The POINT program is a collaboration by WJCS and JCCA to assist adults with special needs to lead rich to live, work and socialize independently, maintaining their own apartments, working, volunteering and involving themselves in continuing education.

Service Program for Older People (SPOP) has received a two year grant totaling $225,000 from The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation. The grant will enable SPOP to expand its mental health services offered to reach an ever growing number of frail homebound older adults living in Manhattan. 

The American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology magazine published a 4 page profile on the Heights Hill Mental Health Service C.A.B. and the Rainbow Heights Club program. It’s available here: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/belonging.aspx.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
6033 Executive Director
6035 Clinic Coordinator - Mental Heath Services

Bookkeeper Non Profit


Director of Program Operations, Full time

6041 Social Worker - Mental Health Admissions Coordinator
6043 CASAC Case Manager



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