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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
                      July 19, 2012

State Advocacy Heats Up This Summer

MRT 1115 Waiver

Focusing on the behavioral health aspects of healthcare, The Coalition is in the process of finalizing our comments on the State’s Medicaid waiver plan. As part of its Medicaid 1115 waiver application, New York State is requesting permission from the Federal government to secure $10 billion of the Federal portion of Medicaid savings generated by the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) reforms. In our comments, we intend to emphasize the importance of integrated community-based behavioral health services in improving overall health outcomes and lowering costs. We will strongly support investment of development funding into Health Homes to alleviate the costs of capital and operations commitments expended upfront by providers. The Coalition will also highlight other innovative, integrated behavioral health approaches to healthcare delivery. Building on The Coalition’s participation in the MRT Work Groups on Behavioral Health Reform and Affordable Housing, we will raise the importance of reinvesting in the services that augment the social determinants of health, such as housing, peer and family supports, and employment services. Our final comments will be circulated once they have been officially submitted to the State.

Executive Order #38 – Executive Compensation & Administrative Expense Caps

The Coalition submitted comments to OMH and OASAS on the proposed regulations to implement Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order #38, to limit executive compensation and administrative expenses for nonprofits. While understanding the concerns that led to the initiation of the Executive Order and subsequent regulatory proposals, we pointed out areas in which more targeted and effective measures could be used to reign in outliers, and underscored items that would be problematic or quite costly for nonprofits to administer. For example, there are several instances where the recruitment and retaining of expert leaders would be compromised by the caps, and the continuity of safety net services in the community would be placed at risk. In addition, the regulations present complexities in fulfilling the standards around seeking waivers, and abiding by the salary ranges set in compensation surveys. We hope that our comments will open up meaningful dialogue on these issues.

Care Coordination & the Movement Towards Managed Care

The Coalition continues to convene our Health Homes lead providers to discuss ongoing implementation issues and to organize our advocacy agenda in this arena. They include the lack of client flow and volume concerns, while at the same time providers have incurred significant fixed costs. After our initial meeting, these concerns were communicated to the State. The Coalition has since reconvened a follow up meeting with the providers to ascertain where improvements have been made, and strategize on areas that still require further action.

The Coalition is also gathering our mental health and substance use providers to help shape our advocacy on when the post Behavioral Health Organization (BHO) period. While the details are still uncertain about what will emerge, some form of a special needs plan or managed care entity will be in place, and it will be critical to have input from the community-based behavioral health providers. These dialogues will help shape our communications with City and State officials as the system transitions to managed care.


The Coalition wrote a letter of support urging Governor Cuomo to sign into law A.10248B/S.7384A, which will require the establishment of a standardized prior authorization form for use by prescribers. The intent is to make the prior authorization process as simple and streamlined as possible. Several providers had raised serious concerns to The Coalition about how onerous this process could be, including working with numerous managed care companies that have different standards and procedures.


Healthcare Reform and Behavioral Health

With the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of individuals will gain access to health insurance plans beginning in 2014 with coverage for mental health and addiction disorders. For the states that choose to expand their Medicaid programs, newly eligible recipients will receive benefits for mental health and substance use services at parity with other primary health benefits. Through the health insurance exchanges that will be set up in each state, consumers without insurance will be able to purchase comprehensive plans with essential health benefits that include parity for mental health and addiction services.

The SCOTUS decision recognizes that behavioral health is an integral part of healthcare. Consumers with behavioral health issues, who did not qualify for health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, are already seeing the benefits from the ACA, as this practice was made illegal when the law first went into effect in 2010. Under the ACA, Health Homes are being implemented to coordinate the physical and behavioral healthcare services for high users of Medicaid with mental health and addiction issues. This will not only provide better, more appropriate care, but avoid more costly emergency services. The Coalition applauds these objectives.


City FY13 Budget Passed w/ Behavioral Health Restorations

Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Council passed the City’s FY 2013 Budget last month. Overall, we were pleased with the restorations made to behavioral health programs and want to thank the Council Members whose diligence facilitated the continuation of the initiatives below to individuals with serious mental health and substance use disorders. We also grateful for the hard work of Coalition members who helped us advocate for them.

  • Children Under Five Mental Health Initiative (CU5) was completely restored at $1.25M. CU5 supports 8 diverse agencies, in all 5 boroughs of New York City. The goal is to identify and treat children who are at risk for social and behavioral difficulties. Many have experience significant trauma in their young lives. Left untreated these issues will likely worsen and bring larger costs later on, both financially and in terms of life outcomes.
  • Geriatric Mental Health Initiative (GMHI) was completely restored at $2M. GMHI provides mental health services in nontraditional, neighborhood-based settings that are places of trust and comfort for older adults. This funding greatly enhances the ability of 25 experienced organizations to provide a range of mental health services in “non-clinical settings,” which include senior centers, drop-in centers, homeless shelters and in their own homes.
  • Mental Health Contracts was cut by $75K due to the elimination of the LINK program. The remaining 6 community-based programs, including The Coalition’s Professional Learning Center (PLC), were fully restored. In total, Mental Health Contracts will be funded at $375M in FY 2013.
  • The Mental Hygiene Contracted Services PEGs were completely restored for Mental Health at $1.15M, which includes psychosocial clubs and bridger programs; and partially restored for Chemical Dependency programs at $525K (down from $700K in FY 2012), which funds medically supervised outpatient services and outpatient rehabilitation programs.


Coalition Celebrated Leadership Awards Event

The Coalition held its 2012 Annual Leadership Awards Reception last month where we honored our very own Dr. Courtenay Harding, PhD, who recently retired as Director of The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery.  We presented Dr. Harding with the Distinguished Service Award for her career of outstanding research and teaching, and personal assistance to mental health professionals and consumers of mental health services, as well as her service to The Center.

In addition, we proudly bestowed Leadership Awards to Charlotte Fischman, Partner, Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel, LLP; Robert Myers, Sr. Deputy Commissioner, Division of Adult Services, 
NYS Office of Mental Health;
Jane Velez, CEO, Palladia, Inc; Carlton C. Whitmore, Sr. Coordinator for Consumer Affairs, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The Coalition also honored our longtime member and dear friend, Joan DiBlasi, Ph.D, Assistant Executive Director, Astor Services for Children and Families with the Founders Award.


Search Begins for New Director of Coalition Center for Rehabilitation & Recovery

Courtenay Harding, the most recent recipient of the Coalition’s Distinguished Service Award, retired at the end of June. The Coalition has begun a search to replace her as Director of the Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery.  We are seeking a highly motivated senior level leader with excellent organizational, communication and grant development skills, someone who has considerable demonstrated management experience in the behavioral health field. To obtain the description of responsibilities and the necessary qualifications, click here.


Coalition Returns from D.C. – Briefing on National Council’s Hill Day

Last month, The Coalition joined 550 behavioral health executives, administrators, board members, consumers, and community stakeholders to advocate on federal behavioral health policy at the National Council's 8th Annual Public Policy Institute and Hill Day.

During Hill Day events, we heard from a lineup of speakers who enlightened us on the upcoming presidential and congressional elections, the 2013 appropriation process and issues of the day like developing managed care approaches and implementing Health Homes. On Hill Day, we were joined by other advocates from New York State for meetings with staff from the offices of Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Yvette Clarke, Representative Darryl Towns and Representative Robert Turner. On our way, we ran into Senator Schumer who posed with us for a picture. The National Council’s agenda included support for the following initiatives, the:

  • Excellence in Mental Health Act (S. 2257/H.R. 5989) to establish national standards and oversight for Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Centers (FQCBHCs). Passage of this act will strengthen the nation’s community mental health and addictions system, providing new support for integrated treatment. The legislation will expand treatment capacity and support community providers, establishing reimbursement that covers the actual cost of providing services.
  • Behavioral Health IT Act (S. 539) to extend financial incentives for the meaningful use of electronic health records to specified mental health and addiction treatment providers and facilities.
  • Mental Health First Aid Higher Education Act (S. 3325/H.R. 5996) to authorize a demonstration program to train college faculty and staff in Mental Health First Aid, a community education program that helps people identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and addictions, as well as deal with psychiatric crises.
  • Mental Health in Schools Act of 2011 (H.R. 751) to build on an evidence-based program at SAMHSA, which is designed to prevent youth violence help communities take action by drawing on the best practices in education, justice, social services and behavioral health. H.R. 751 authorizes competitive grants to local school districts to assist them in early interventions and referrals for treatment, provides supports for students and their families, and supports staff training that is culturally and linguistically competent.
  • Preserve SAMHSA funding in the 2013 budget by adopting the SAMHSA funding levels approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Committee’s funding recommendations include $20M increases for the Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.


Around the Water Cooler

Coalition Board member, Paul Levine, has announced that he plans to step down as Executive Vice President and CEO of JBFCS on June 30, 2013. David Rivel, Chief Administrative Officer/Associate Executive Vice President, is named his successor. Levine has been with JBFCS for 30 years and without question has strengthened and broadened its service to New Yorkers in need. Paul has been a longtime Coalition activist and we will miss his many contributions. We extend a hearty welcome to the Coalition family to his successor, David Rivel.

 Starting in mid-June, there was new face on the JBFCS Executive Cabinet. Ron Acker joined the JBFCS staff as Chief Financial Officer, replacing Ron Ries, who left to join the WeiserMazars firm as a Partner in their not-for-profit services group.  In addition, another change in the Executive Cabinet of JBFCS has been implemented. Uday Madasu has joined the agency as its Chief Information Officer, a newly created position.

The Bridge is very excited to announce that Michael Blady, LCSW-R, has been named as the new Chief Operating Officer. Blady comes to The Bridge with more than 25 years of experience in the behavioral health arena, most recently at Safe Space and prior to that in senior positions at The Institute for Community Living. He replaces Bob Yankowitz, who retired from The Bridge after 11 years of service. We have worked on many projects with Bob, including his tireless work for our Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery. Somehow, we expect to see him re-emerge in the Coalition orbit in a new role. Stay tuned. Michael Blady is no stranger to The Coalition and we wish him success in his new role.

Community Access invites you to register for Race for our Community, and be part of a special celebration in New York City dedicated to helping individuals and families overcome mental illness and homelessness. Register to participate in our 5K Run, 1 mile Walk or Dog Walk at: www.raceforourcommunity.org, and follow a few simple steps to set up your personal fundraising page. You can participate as an individual or form your own team. For more information, call Erin Johnson at (212) 780-1400, ext. 7804, or email enjohnson@communityaccess.org.

FEGS Health and Human Services and its subsidiary company, All Sector Technology Group has announced the launch of Center4. This New York City accelerator will drive technology innovation to strengthen the capacity of nonprofit health and human service agencies to deliver high-quality, effective and cost-effective services, improving lives of the people served.

Robert Goldblatt, LCSW, Director of Rehabilitation at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Bureau of Mental Health is retired after 35 years of service in the mental health system in New York City. His career spans both government and non-profit roles including with the NYS Office of Mental Health and most recently with the Mental Health Association of New York City and DOHMH. Bob has been a strong advocate for recovery-oriented services throughout his career and has most recently made contributions to the City’s efforts to improve crisis services, increase employment and economic self-sufficiency for people with serious mental illness and expand the use of peers throughout our community-based service system. Bob will be sorely missed. The Department is currently recruiting for a new Director of Rehabilitation.

Fatima Goldman, Executive Director/CEO of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, was inducted as an honorary member into Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society, which is the national academic honorary society of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. Each year students vote to honor individuals from the community for outstanding contributions to the public life of New York City, and this year, they chose Fatima as an inductee!


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
6529 Human Resources Generalist

Clinic Director - Outpatient Mental Health Clinic


Client Navigator - Part TIme Working with Seniors


Digital Communication Manager

6557 Assistant Residence Manager
6561 Clinic Registrars




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