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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
                           January 12 , 2011


Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team Convenes

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the members of his Medicaid Redesign Team on Friday, January 7, 2011. The team, led by Jason Helgerson, the newly appointed Medicaid Director, is tasked with finding savings within the Medicaid program for the upcoming 2011-12 Fiscal Year. Unfortunately, the team does not include a representative from the community-based behavioral health sector, and coverage for mental health and substance abuse services is very much on the table for reform. The work of the team will move quickly, as recommendations are due to the Governor by March 1. The list of the team’s 27 members can be found in a press release issued by the Governor’s office, which has also launched a website to track the progress of reforms and invite public participation. The Medicaid Redesign Team will meet on Thursday, January 13, 2010, at 1 p.m. in the Empire State Plaza concourse level Meeting Room Six. The public is invited to observe the meeting.


Housing & Homeless Update: Coalition Meets with HUD & OMH; Tours with DHS

The Coalition met with Vincent Hom, Director of Community Planning and Development at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) New York State Office, and Craig Retchless, Housing Program Specialist at the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at The Coalition’s office. We discussed documenting homeless eligibility, contracting and performance review issues, as well as future implementation of the HEARTH Act. Then on Monday, January 10, 2011, Coalition staff visited three programs with the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS). On the tour, led by George Nashak, Deputy Commissioner of Adult Services and Frances Lockhart, Associate Commissioner of Adult Services, we visited 3 programs that serve individuals who are homeless. The first stop was to a Safe Haven managed by Bowery Residents Committee (BRC) in upper Manhattan, the second was the Park Avenue Women’s Shelter run by Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, and finally the 30th Street Men’s Shelter run by DHS. It was on-the-ground tour, filled with information and observations—raising many questions about programs and policies for the homeless.


DOH & OMH Issues Letter to OMIG on Temporary Billing Waivers

The Coalition is very pleased to announce that the NYS Department of Health (DOH) and the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) have  issued a joint letter to the NYS Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) on the complexities of billing under the new 599 regulations as we await approval of the Federal Medicaid State Plan. The letter formally requests a moratorium on Article 31 clinic audits and disallowances for the period of October 1, 2010 through April 30, 2011, and perhaps beyond if approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is significantly delayed. The letter also states that DOH is temporarily waiving its 90 day claims submission requirement for Article 31 clinics, and that clinics will be given until 3 months after the date of federal Medicaid State Plan approval to adjust all claims and make corrections as appropriate. The Coalition takes great pride in these official communications since they reflect months of conversations that we have had with government officials and reflect petitioning on our part for these actions to take place.


Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez is new OASAS Commissioner

Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez was named Commissioner of the NYS Office of AlcoholismArlene González-Sánchez, Acting Commissioner  and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). The Coalition looks forward to continuing our relationship with Commissioner Sanchez in her new role as leader of OASAS. Commissioner Sanchez has also been named as a member of Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team. Previous to her appointment, Ms. Gonzalez-Sanchez served as the Commissioner and Director of Community Services at the Nassau County Department of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency, where she played a leading role to consolidate mental health, developmental disabilities, and drug and alcohol addiction services. Prior to working for Nassau County, Ms. Gonzalez-Sanchez served at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for a decade.


Senator Roy J. McDonald to Chair Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities Committee

Senator Roy J. McDonald was appointed as the new Chair of the NYS Senate’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. Senator McDonald is a long time advocate for people with developmental disabilities and autism awareness. He created the Saratoga County Autism Council, an organization charged with providing education, respite and early intervention to people with developmental disabilities and their families. Senator McDonald was elected to the Senate in 2008 to represent District 43, which is located in the Capital District region. Prior to joining the Senate, Senator McDonald was an Assembly Member who represented its 112th District since 2002. The Coalition congratulates the new Chair on his appointment and looks forward to working with him on behavioral health policy this year.


Register Now! “Behavioral Health: How Does It Fit?” - A Coalition Conference

Come to The Coalition’s “must attend” conference on January 24, 2011, called “Behavioral Health: How Does It Fit?” co-sponsored by The Urban Institute for Behavioral Health of NY, this is an extraordinary opportunity for providers to think creatively about where behavioral health fits into state and national priorities i.e. healthcare reforms being implemented under the federal government’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and cost containing initiatives to be proposed by the State’s Medicaid Redesign Team.

Join us and hear our Keynote Speaker Barbara Coulter Edwards, Director of the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group in the Center for Medicaid, CHIP, and Survey & Certification at CMS; Dr. Michael Hogan, Commissioner, NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH); and Gregory Allen, Director, Division of Financial Planning and Policy, NYS Department of Health (DOH). We have also invited the new Commissioner of the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (OASAS), Arlene Gonzalez Sanchez to appear as well. In the afternoon session, we will be joined by Deborah Bachrach, Special Counsel at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, a visiting fellow at the New York State Health Foundation and from 2007 to 2010, the NYS Medicaid Director and Deputy Commissioner of Health for the Office of Health Insurance Programs.

The conference will be held at the New York City Association of the Bar of the City of New York at 42 West 44th Street from 10am to 5pm. Registration begins at 9:30am. Seats will go fast, so register online now. For more information, please view the conference brochure.


Coalition’s Albany Advocacy Days Set for March 7 & 8—Hold the Date

The Coalition will head to Albany for its annual advocacy day visits on March 7, 2011 and March 8, 2011. We will meet with elected officials and agency leaders from the Executive and Legislative branches. Last year we were able to cover over 50 meetings in 2 days, and plan to have a full agenda scheduled for this year as well. As you are aware, Governor Cuomo has outlined a plan to close the State's $10B budget deficit through various redesigns and reforms. This includes an overhaul of the State's Medicaid program, juvenile justice system, consolidations and mergers. There will of course be cuts proposed in all systems, making it much more important that we continue to have a strong presence in Albany this year. Stay tuned for more details.


Around the Water Cooler

The Coalition is pleased to welcome Callen-Lorde Community Health Center as a new member of The Coalition. Led by Wendy Stark, Executive Director, Callen-Lorde provides sensitive, quality health care and related services primarily to New York's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities—in all their diversity—regardless of ability to pay. Callen-Lorde's Mental Health and Social Services Department offers a comprehensive range of services to support their clients’ emotional and physical well-being.

Congratulations to Pat Feinberg (pictured on the right), Peer Educator at The Coalition’s Center for Recovery and Rehabilitation, and Margie Staker (on the left), MBI-WPD Project Coordinator, who both successfully completed their provisional 12-month certification as a Benefits and Work Incentive Practitioner from Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute. 

After serving nearly four years as Director of the Nathan Kline Institute (NKI) for Psychiatric Research, Dr. Harold Koplewicz will leave the New York State Office of Mental Health on January 12, 2011. Dr. Koplewicz plans to devote his time and attention to the recently launched Child Mind Institute. Dr. Lloyd I. Sederer, OMH Medical Director, will be the Acting Director of NKI, effective January 13, 2011. Dr. Sederer will also lead a joint national search for a new Director of NKI.

United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) announced the appointment of Anthony Ng as the new Director of Policy and Advocacy, replacing Susan Stamler who left UNH after 10 years of dedicated service. Prior to joining UNH seven years ago, Anthony focused on affordable housing and community development at Asian Americans for Equality and the Mount Hope Housing Company.

The Guidance Center of Westchester will hold its Winter Family Fund Day at Parents Place (a program of the Guidance Center) on Saturday, January 22. Get ready for a “toe tapping, knee slapping” musical show for young children, featuring Miss Rhea and Marc the Music Man. There will also be arts, crafts, face painting, door prizes and other kid-friendly activities. Price of admission is $20 per family. The fun happens at 3 Carhart Avenue, White Plains (Lower Level Community Room at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church) to sponsor a family, visit our website at www.TheGuidanceCenter.org.

The Metropolitan Institute for Training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, The Metropolitan Center for Mental Health and The Metropolitan Society of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists invite you to a Scientific Meeting Friday, February 4, 2011 t 8:00 P.M. on Schizoid States and Their Mechanisms, presented by M. Nasir Ilahi, LL.M. The meeting will be held at the Karen Horney Psychoanalytic Institute and Center at 329 East 62nd Street (1st & 2nd Avenues), 1st Floor Auditorium, New York, NY 10021.  For further information: (212) 496-2858, email mitppnyc@aol.com or visit www.MITPP.org

The Mental Health Association (MHA) of Westchester County was awarded a $35,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation to support its Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) ® program. CASA uses trained volunteers (Advocates) to assist Family Court Judges in making decisions to place children who have been abused or neglected, and reside in foster care or at-risk for foster care.

F.E.G.S Health and Human Services was awarded three grants from the Robin Hood Foundation ($400,000), the Tiger Foundation ($100,000) and the Child Welfare Fund ($100,000), to support its work with disconnected youth at its Bronx Youth Center, located in the South Bronx.  FEGS has launched its CareerFirsts® model to work with young people, provideing a range of education, career and supportive services for disconnected youth at the Center, including specialized services for youth aging out of foster care through the F.E.G.S Academy program.


Some City Cuts are Restored as January Financial Plan Looms

Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Finance Committee Chair Domenic M. Recchia Jr. announced on January 6, 2011, that the Council and Mayor Bloomberg have reached an agreement to restore some of the cuts made in the Mayor’s November Plan for the current Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11). However, the restorations for Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) will not be finalized until the Mayor releases his FY12 Preliminary Budget, which is expected to be released by early February with additional proposed cuts. The only restoration made to the “Mental Hygiene Contracted Services” cut initiated at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) in the November Financial Plan was for “Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities” clinics, which was fully restored at $432,530. For more information on restorations, please see The Council’s press release.


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 free 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.


Economic Self Sufficiency Forum Sponsored by DOHMH and The Center

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery is pleased to sponsor an “Economic Self-Sufficiency Forum” for consumers who want to learn how they can earn and save money without losing their benefits. Center staff have worked with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and several sponsors, to create a dynamic event that will equip consumers with knowledge and tools to climb out of poverty. The forum will feature a bevy of expert speakers, including financial educators, benefits specialists and people who have achieved economic self-sufficiency. This free event will take place at The Bank of America, 1 Bryant Park, Manhattan on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 from 9am – 12:30 pm. Registration is required by January 20, 2011: Call 917.438.9782 or Email: dohmhcallcenter@health.nyc.gov.


OMH to Hold Cultural Competence Webinar and Releases Plan

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, the NYS Office of Mental Health will hold a webinar titled “Cultural Competence in Mental Health Program,” from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM. This presentation will discuss how mental health programs can infuse cultural competence applications into their programs. There is limited registration, which can be accessed at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/310534041. In addition, OMH has released its New York State Cultural Competence (CC) Statewide Plan for 2010-2014. The plan addresses policies, procedures, and practices designed to promote cultural and linguistic competence in the services under the purview of OMH, including OMH-operated facilities, funded programs, and licensed programs.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
5983 Intensive Case Manager
5985 Asst Program Director, Transitional Residence (HIV/AIDS)

ACT Registered Nurse


Staff Psychologist

5994 Clinician
5996 Chief Program Officer



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