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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 18, 2011

State Budget Deficits Grow; “Millionaire’s Tax” Tax Advocacy Advances

The State’s Mid-Year Financial Plan Update was released by the NYS Division of Budget (DOB) on November 14, 2011, and the numbers are bleak. DOB reports that a $350 million deficit has emerged in the current fiscal year (FY 2012) and the budget deficit for next year has grown from $2.4 billion to somewhere in the range of $3 billion to $3.5 billion. The Cuomo Administration will develop a plan to close this year’s budget gap by the end of the fiscal year, but it is unclear if the Legislature will need to be called back into a special session to do so. The report attributed the deficits to lower than expected revenue receipts from personal, sales and business taxes.

Meanwhile, pressure has been growing for Governor Cuomo to consider extending the personal income tax surcharge on high income earners (or “millionaire’s tax”) beyond its expiration on December 31, 2011. The extension of this tax would cover most if not all of the State deficit, and create an annual revenue stream going forward of $4 billion to $5 billion. It is also worthy to note that the School Aid and Medicaid budgets, which makeup roughly half of the budget were negotiated for two years in last year’s budget, and are scheduled to increase by about 4% next year. These areas will certainly be pressure points when decisions are made regarding next year’s budget.


Controversial New DHS Shelter Rules Are on Hold After Intense Hearing & Legal Challenge

On November 9, 2011, the NYC City Council’s General Welfare Committee held an emergency hearing on the NYC Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) new homeless shelter eligibility process for single adults, which was unveiled just days before the hearing. At the hearing, Council Members, led by Speaker Christine Quinn and General Welfare Committee Chair Annabel Palma questioned DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond for over 2 and a half hours on the new policy.

Under the proposed rules, DHS would deny shelter to those individuals who are deemed to have other available housing options. This could include space in a relative’s apartment where an individual once previously stayed during the past year. Under the new policy, individuals would be required to disclose a record of where they have lived in the last year, and DHS would conduct a thorough review to determine shelter eligibility.

DHS has decided to postpone implementation of the new shelter rules until December 9, 2011, following a legal challenge filed by the Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless. These new rules would be especially troubling if implemented, as a majority of individuals who are homeless also have mental illness and substance use issues, or can be fleeing domestic violence and other dangerous situations.


Part 599 Emergency Regulations Released for OMH Clinics

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) released emergency Part 599 regulations, which made some significant changes to the provision of services in OMH clinics. Some of these changes were expected, such as the removal of off-site services for all categories except children (up to age 19) and crisis services for all recipients. The 40 visit threshold limitation for services was also removed. Language was added to explain the reimbursement reductions for annual clinic visits beyond 30 and 50 (starting April 1st). A welcome change for child providers was that the 30 minute "Psychotherapy–Family/Collateral Without the Recipient" service was changed to allow the recipient to be present for some or all of the time. The regulations now make a distinction between "Injectable Psychotropic Medication Administration" and "Injectable Psychotropic Medication Administration with Monitoring and Education" which was just added.

In addition, 599 regulations were amended to reflect OMH’s ability to contract with Behavioral Health Organizations (BHO) in order to provide “administration and management services for the provision of behavioral health services”. The regulations now stipulate that programs shall cooperate with the designated BHO and are authorized to exchange client information with the BHO. However, the information being exchanged is still subject to HIPAA, and is limited to the minimum necessary and must be kept confidential. Any client imposed limitations on the release of information also applies to the party receiving that information. Lastly, all OMH specialty children’s clinics must notify the BHO when a child enrolled in a Medicaid Managed Care organization is determined to be SED.

For all the details on these and other changes included in the emergency regulations go to: http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/policy_and_regulations/Emergency/Part_599_20111102.html


HUD Funding Legislation for FY 2012 is Passed by Congress

On November 17, 2011, Congress passed the FY 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations bill (H.R. 2112). The T-HUD legislation is expected to be signed by President Obama. The bill includes a total of $37.3 billion for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and significant cuts to several programs that fund housing and homeless services. The appropriation in the total bill is equivalent to a decrease of $3.8 billion below last year’s (FY 2011) funding level, and $4.7 billion below President Obama’s request. The legislation includes:

  • $1.9 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (equal to FY 2011 level), including $250 million for ESG
  • $18.9 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance ($540 million increase over FY 2011), this includes: $17.24 billion for Section 8 renewals and $75 million for new HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers
  • $2.95 billion for Community Development Block Grants ($390 million decrease from FY 2011)
  • $1 billion for the HOME program ($606 million – 38% decrease from FY 2011 funding);
  • $1.88 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund ($165 million decrease from FY 2011)
  • $3.96 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund ($655 million decrease FY 2011)

Funding for t he McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants supports housing programs through the NYC Coalition on the Continuum of Care (CCoC). The Coalition was just re-elected to serve as a voting member on the CCoC Steering Committee for the 2011-2012 year.


Super Committee Approaches Deadline

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the “super committee,” has until November 23, 2011, to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. Right now, a consensus does not seem likely, which would mean that sequestration, or automatic cuts across the board would occur. If the Committee does agree to a plan, then Congress would have until December 23, 2011, to pass it with no amendments allowed. If either of these 2 events does not happen, then $1.2 trillion in across the board cuts would go into effect (half to defense programs and half to domestic discretionary programs (excluding Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare). However, other health and behavioral health programs would not be exempt from sequestration, and all programs are up for grabs if the super committee does reach a compromise. These procedures were established under the Budget and Control Act of 2011.

Center Trainings in December – Register Now!

1. Engagement: Ways to Wrap People into Care

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). LIFELINES promote two events: 1) quickly building the beginnings of a relationship between participant and the clinician; and 2) documenting a life lived. This short instrument has been taught and used across the world. Consumers like it because it is done in a collaborative manner, head to head with the clinician, and they get to take materials home for themselves. Date:   December 2, 2011; Time:  9:30 – 12:30; Location: Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery; Fee:  FREE!;
Register now »

2. Cognitive Behavioral Approaches to Group Work (Advanced) 

Prerequisite: The Center strongly recommends that participants complete the "Leading Groups: An Introduction" learning before taking this training. This full-day training is designed for experienced group leaders in mental health programs who are interested in learning cognitive behavioral techniques that help group members change their patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. 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. Facilitator: Aaron Vieira, LMSW; Date:  December 15, 2011; Time:  9:30am – 4:30pm; Location: The Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery; Fee:  FREE!
Register now »


Interborough Developmental and Consultation Center Joins The Coalition

The Coalition welcomes our newest member, Interborough Developmental and Consultation Center. Interborough Developmental and Consultation Center is a NYS licensed mental health agency that has been providing mental health services to the Brooklyn community for more than thirty five years. Interborough has clinics in Canarsie, Crown Heights, Flatbush and Williamsburg, where they serve the multi-faceted mental health needs of families. Interborough also runs clinic programs in eight public schools including middle, high and alternative schools.


Around the Water Cooler

Watch a video of Phillip A. Saperia, CEO of The Coalition, honored by Talk Therapy Television at the 2011 Behavioral Health Recognition Month Celebration at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

 An article by Jason Lippman, Senior Associate for Policy & Advocacy of The Coalition is featured in Mental Health News’ “Housing For People With Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders” edition. It is entitled “When Government Looks for Healthcare Savings Supportive Housing Has the Answer,” and appears on page 6.

 Member News

Samaritan Village ‘s Women Veterans Program, an OASAS provider dedicated to addressing the unique clinical needs of women veterans in a trauma-informed environment, was featured on the “Sunday Cover with Russ Mitchell” segment of the CBS Evening News this past weekend. 

CAMBA Housing Ventures and Enterprise celebrated the groundbreaking for CAMBA Gardens. CAMBA Gardens will be a $67 million, 209 unit LEED Platinum, affordable and supportive housing development on two underutilized sites on the grounds of Kings County Hospital Center. The two, six-story buildings project is a partnership between the public hospital system, social service providers and non-profit developers to provide housing and access to comprehensive healthcare services

F•E•G•S also hosted groundbreaking ceremony marking a $4.4 million renovation for Tanya Towers, a 138-unit residence on Manhattan's Lower East Side that will offer safe, affordable housing with special support services to low-income individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, or have other disabilities.

Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) recently celebrated the opening of its new SIMHS Children's Mental Health Center at 444 St. Mark's Place in St. George, Staten Island. The Center is, the borough's first LEED-certified "green” office building. The SIMHS is seeking the Platinum Level designation.

Brooklyn Community Services was featured in a New York Times editorial called “A Room of Her Own.” It is about a young Brooklyn woman who finally obtains stable housing after getting some assistance from BCS to pay a month's rent.

SCO Family of Services received $1.3 million from the Brookwood Foundation in recognition of its transformative services provided to Brooklyn's families and children. The gift was part of the foundation's voluntary dissolution plan and was presented to SCO Executive Director Gail Nayowith.

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS) will hold its 2012 Spring Benefit honoring Joyce B. Cowin (JBFCS Trustee), Fran W. Levy (JBFCS Trustee) and Julie Menin (Chairperson, Community Board #1). It will take place on Monday, April 23, 2011, at 6:30 PM at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. For more information, contact Jenny Magdol at jmagdol@jbfcs.org or (212) 632-4712.

The Board of Directors of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York has selected Mary Ann Christopher, MSN, RN, FAAN to be its next President and Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Christopher will assume her new position effective January 1, 2012.

Updates on People in Government

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has appointed Gail Wolsk, LMSW as Acting Director of our Office of Housing Services within the Bureau of Mental Health. Gail began her career working as a social worker with children and families, and then spent more than 15 years working in progressively responsible positions in outreach programs, shelter-based programs, drop-in-centers and housing programs.

The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) announced the appointment of Mr. Paolo del Vecchio as Acting Director. Paolo currently serves as the CMHS Associate Director for Consumer Affairs and in this capacity he manages SAMHSA's precedent-setting activities addressing consumer participation and education, issues of discrimination and prejudice, consumer rights, wellness, recovery, trauma, access to treatment, and other issues affecting persons with mental health conditions.

Dr. Lloyd Sederer, Medical director, NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) has published an article called “Prescription Drug Abuse: The New Killer on the Block” in the Huffington Post. According to the article, “every 14 minutes a person dies of a drug overdose in the United States. This means more than 35,000 deaths every year, exceeding motor vehicle crashes, homicides and suicides!”


SAMHSA Announces Selection of Regional Administrators

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Administrator Pam Hyde announced the selection of 10 new Regional Administrators. In New York City (Region 2),  Dennis O. Romero will be the Regional Administrator. He currently is the Acting Director of SAMHSA’s Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse. The 10 Regional Administrators will assume their new positions in each of the Health and Human Services (HHS) regional offices between November and January. They will help SAMHSA reach out to and provide information for States, Territories, Tribes, providers, communities and other stakeholders on issues like funding opportunities, federal policies, disaster preparedness and response. The Regional Administrations will also make it easier for SAMHSA to collaborate with other HHS colleagues in the regional offices and be better informed about behavioral health needs throughout the country. The biographies of the 10 Regional Administrators can be found on the SAMHSA website.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
6262 Vocational Specialist
6264 Director, Rehabilitation Services (LCSW)

Employment Specialist - Brooklyn


Development Director, PT (Min 20 hrs/wk, flexible hrs.)

6269 Registered Nurse (Temporary)
6283 Peer Educator



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