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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
                        September 26 , 2011

Health Homes Start Dates Pushed Forward

On September 22, 2012, the NYS Department of Health (DOH) held a webinar on health homes. Here are the highlights: First, the application deadline has been postponed until November 1, 2011.  Second, health homes will be implemented in three phases. Phase 1 will begin in January 2012, and include 13 counties. In New York City, this will include the Bronx and Brooklyn. Nassau County will also be part of Phase 1 implementation, along with Monroe, Warren, Washington, Essex, Hamilton, Saratoga, Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, and Schenectady Counties. The target date for Phase 2 is April 2012, and June 2012 for Phase 3. Phase 2 and 3 counties are to be determined, but should be announced shortly.

DOH expects that the lead health home organizations will be community based organizations, hospitals and managed care companies. Assignment to health homes will be a function of clinical risk groups (CRG), estimated hospitalizations, behavioral health indicators, existing care relationships, geography and qualifying conditions. Housing services, like supportive housing will also be important to the success of care coordination. The health home payment rate chart is a listing of preliminary rates that are based on averages. The final rates will be a function of caseload variation, case management cost and patient-specific acuity. For more information on health homes, please see question & answers on the DOH website, and rate information Q&A's.


HUD Appropriations Legislation (FY 2012)

The House of Representatives and Senate reported appropriation bills this month to fund the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in FY 2012. Overall, funding in both bills is similar. However, Congress is not likely to authorize FY 2012 appropriations before the end of this fiscal year (FY 2011), which ends on September 30. Instead, continuing resolutions (CR) will have to be passed to keep funding flowing in FY 2012. The first CR should fund the government operations through November 18. Below are summaries of the bills.

On September 8th, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD), marked up a bill to provide $38.1 billion to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for FY 2012. This represents a cut of $3 billion or 7.3% below FY 2011. Included in the bill is $1.9 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (same as FY 2011), $75 million for new HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers; $18.5 billion for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers ($97 million increase from FY 2011); $3.5 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) ($500K below FY 2011), and $335 thousand for Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) (even with FY 2011).

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) marked-up its FY 2012 appropriations bill on September 20. It was approved the next day by the full Senate Appropriations Committee. In summary, the Senate agreed to allocate $1.9 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (same as House bill), $75 million for VASH vouchers (same as House bill), $18.9 billion for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program ($400K more than House bill), $2.9 billion in CDBG ($600K below House bill), and $330 thousand for HOPWA ($35K below House bill).


Stigmatizing Behavioral Health in the Media

During a ritual pre-morning gathering in “The Coalition Pantry” this morning, staff had alarming reactions to the title of an article in today’s New York Post called “Cost of Kooks and Junkies.” Words like these, not only grossly misrepresent people with mental illness and addiction disorders, but also discriminate and stigmatize consumers. The story was actually about the work of Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT), and its effort to save State spending on costly inpatient hospitalizations and emergency services for people with severe mental illness and drug addiction disorders. This initiative, as mentioned in the Post, involves the establishment of five regional behavioral health organizations (BHOs). The BHOs are tasked with monitoring the length and frequency of hospital admissions. In New York City, this will be done through OptumHealth. The Coalition has been an active participant in the BHO process, informing State officials and MRT members on mental health and substance use policy and services, as well as the consumers who rely on them.

“Putting the Caped Crusader on the Couch,” an op-ed piece that appeared in the New York Times on September 20, 2011, offers a critique of how comic books have used metal health disorders to explain the criminal behavior of classic comic book villains. For instance, the Joker in Batman (and other villains) is “criminally insane” or a “lunatic.” The article states how comic book writers often confuse psychiatric hospitals with prisons. “Patients are called ‘inmates,’ decked into shackles and orange jumpsuits, while a mental health professional doubles as the ‘warden.’” Instead, the authors (Beck, Kamban & Pozios) recommend that comic books, like DC Comics (which has recently revamped its comic story lines and characters)  be more sensitive to people in the real world that have mental health disorders, which is no joke!


MRT Pharmacy Reforms Go Into Effect October 1

MRT Proposal #11: Bundle Pharmacy into Managed Care

Effective October 1, 2011, Medicaid Redesign Team Proposal # 11 “Bundle Pharmacy into Managed Care” will require Medicaid Managed Care beneficiaries to start receiving prescription drugs through their Managed Care Plan rather than using their Medicaid Card. There will be a one-time 30 day refill allowed on a non-formulary drug (unless it was just a 30 day prescription). This one-time refill will include drugs that require prior authorization or step therapy under the Plan’s rules. If a currently prescribed drug is not on the Managed Care Plan’s formulary, beneficiaries will have to work with their prescribers to file an appeal to request a fair hearing, in order to switch medication or drug plans.

DOH is specifically concerned about the availability of Antipsychotic and Antidepressant medications (among others), and is requiring that Plans describe in detail how they will ensure access to these medications, and make transparent how the formularies and/or utilization management tools are developed. Plans must also monitor to ensure that beneficiaries have access to needed medications.

MRT Proposal #15: Comprehensive Fee-For-Service Pharmacy Reform

Also beginning October 1st, are parts of Medicaid Redesign Team Proposal #15  “Comprehensive Fee-for-Service Pharmacy Reform.” This includes the:

  • elimination of wrap-around coverage for antidepressants, antiretrovirals, atypical antipsychotics and immuno-suppressants for dually eligible individuals
  • elimination of prior authorization exemption under the Preferred Drug Program (PDP) for antiretrovirals, atypical antipsychotics and immuno-suppressants
  • limitation of prescriptions for medications in the opioid class to four every thirty days

It is important that individuals who are dually eligible are aware that Medicaid will continue to cover excluded medications. For example, benzodizepenes will still be covered by Medicaid after Oct 1st. The wrap-around program (which is being eliminated) covered medications which were allowed under Part D but not covered by a particular Plan. 


Center Trainings in October

20 Ways to Overcome Barriers to Recovery

In this half-day workshop, Dr. Courtenay Harding will provide a window into at least 20 obstacles which may stand in the way of recovery from mental illness and how to resolve many of them. Participants will receive a clear set of questions to ask, new ways to rethink problems and some solutions to remove the roadblocks. This free workshop will take place at the Coalition on October 7, 2011, from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm.  Register now »

How to Get a Date: A Helpful Way to Teach Social Skills

This free half-day workshop will provide concrete and practical tools and strategies for the clinician to help people move forward in reclaiming their lives. Each clinician needs a “little black bag” with tools of the trade stuffed inside to pull out when needed as the person with whom they are working wants to have a clearer head, a healthier body, “a home, a job, friends, and a date for the weekend!” This interactive and fun session, facilitated by Dr. Courtenay Harding, will take place at the Coalition on October 14, 2011, from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm.  Register now »


Unique People Services Joins The Coalition

The Coalition welcomes our newest member, Unique People Services. Unique People Services provides services, holistically and without judgment, to those who may have been denied compassionate and considerate treatment elsewhere due to their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, developmental level, health status, criminal or substance abuse history. Their goals are to provide housing and comprehensive support services designed to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of each Individual; help those whose needs have been neglected or whose circumstances have prevented use of existing services; and promote greater public understanding of the unmet needs of Individuals with special needs.


Coalition Members Named to MRT Affordable Housing Workgroup

Donna Colonna, Executive Director of Services for the UnderServed & President of The Coalition; Tony Hannigan, Executive Director, Center for Urban Community Services; Tino Hernandez, Chief Executive Officer, Samaritan Village; Bobby Watts, Executive Director, Care for the Homeless; and Jason Lippman, Senior Associate for Policy and Advocacy of The Coalition, were all named to Governor Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team’s (MRT) Affordable Housing Workgroup.

The mission of the Affordable Housing Workgroup is develop a multi-year statewide plan for increasing access to affordable housing, so that New York State Medicaid beneficiaries are not forced into institutional settings because they cannot access affordable housing. This work is related to MRT recommendation # 196, Supportive Housing Initiative.

The Affordable Housing Workgroup will be co-chaired by James Introne, Deputy Secretary for Health and the  Director of Healthcare Redesign, and Ed Matthews, CEO of the United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, President of the Interagency Council. Please share your thoughts with the MRT Affordable Housing Work Group by emailing affordable@health.state.ny.us.


Governor Cuomo Launches Electronic Town Hall Website

On September, 22, 2011, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched CitizenConnects, an online town hall to encourage New Yorkers to participate in state government and share their ideas to help shape New York's future. The new online town hall website features multiple interactive platforms for New Yorkers to communicate and participate with their state government, as well as a new online town hall where the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and top commissioners and executive officials will participate in weekly online chats. The Governor held the first chat last weekend. On the website, New Yorkers can submit ideas and policy questions to the Governor, follow the executive branch with enhanced access on Facebook and Twitter, sign up to receive e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter updates, and access the Governor’s daily and future schedules.


Around the Water Cooler

On October 9, 2011, Talk Therapy TV in partnership with the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum, will host the inaugural Behavioral Health Recognition Month celebration at the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum from 10am to 4pm. Ms. A. Kathryn Power, Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMSHA) Center for Mental Health Services, will be the featured key note speaker. In addition, The Coalition’s very own, Phillip A. Saperia, will be one of the four individuals to honored by Talk Therapy TV for promoting behavioral health wellness.  

MHA of Westchester is celebrating 65 years of excellence, leadership and innovation on October 22nd. Honorary Chairs for the event are Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Charles Schumer. Among the honorees is Harvey Rosenthal, Executive Director of NYAPRS, who will receive MHA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. To purchase tickets/journal ads online click here. For more information, please call (914) 345-5900 x7511 or email moustakc@mhawestchester.org.

The Queensboro Council for Social Welfare will hold its 89th Annual Awards Luncheon & Networking Exhibition on Friday, October 28th. Among the honorees are Steven Goodman, Executive Vice President & CEO, Samuel Field YM & YWHA, Inc.; Steinway Children and Family Services, Inc. (Mary D. Redd, President & CEO and Pasquale DePetris, Vice President & COO), Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and several Queens City Council Members: Leroy G. Comrie, Elizabeth Crowley, James F. Gennaro, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Peter F. Vallone, Jr., Mark Weprin. The event will include a networking exhibition from 11:00 - 12:30, and luncheon from 12:30 - 2:30; at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel, 104-04 Ditmars Blvd. East Elmhurst, NY 11369. For information on Luncheon Tickets and the Luncheon Journal, please contact: QCSW@aol.com or (718) 685-2802 x232.

Odyssey House and the Children's Aid Society were among two of seven New York City groups in the state to receive $80,000 in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to open health centers. This funding is part of a national $10 million package of planning grants for the development of primary care health centers.

Project Hospitality was awarded $300,000 by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to support innovative efforts for Food Stamp outreach. Among the grants’ objectives are to increase participation among the elderly, newly unemployed, legal immigrants and working families with children.

Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) has opened “Pass It On Kid's Kloset.” An all-volunteer effort, Kid's Kloset distributes new and gently-used children's clothing and essentials free of charge to Westchester families in need. On hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony were WJCS CEO Alan Trager, White Plains Council Member Milagros Lecuona, White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, Kid's Kloset Program Director Stephanie Roth and WJCS President Carol Corbin.

The Aspen Institute, a renowned international think tank, has named Council Member Jessica Lappin as Rodel Fellow. The program is focused on transcending political partisanship and focusing attention on over-arching questions of leadership and governance. Alumni include Congresswomen Gabby Giffords and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Service Program for Older People (SPOP) is featured as “Agency of the Month” in the October 2011 issue of New York Nonprofit Press (NYNP).


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
6209 Licensed Physical Therapist
6213 Psychiatrist, Pay-Per-Session

Director of Social Services


Recovery Counselor for PROS Recovery Program

6220 Clinical Social Work Supervisor
6222 LPN


Coalition Member Sponsored Events

Coalition Members advertise Events for free on The Coalition’s Member Sponsored Event Board

Date  Event Title

Advancing E/Quality Care: From policy into practice




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