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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
                    December 13, 2012

Coalition Briefs in Recovery

Working From Temporary Locations Post Sandy

Our office building at 90 Broad Street is not fully up and running due to serious damages sustained by Hurricane Sandy, The Coalition continues to work out of remote office locations: The Jewish Funders Network (JFN) and at Public Health Solutions. We are extremely thankful to our hosts and the many of you who have offered us the use of your own space and assistance. We are especially grateful to the following organizations who have allowed us to use their conference room space for trainings and meetings: FEGS Health and Human Services; Jewish Board Family and Children Services; Jewish Guild for the Blind; International Center for the Disabled; NYC Administration for Children’s Services; OASAS NYC Field Office, OMH NYC Field Office; SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders); Services for the Underserved and Weston United. The response to our dislocation and distress from members and other colleagues has been heartwarming.

Please visit The Coalition’s homepage at www.coalitionny.org for regular updates.


State Hurricane Sandy Resources for Community-Based Providers

The latest updates on the OASAS Hurricane Sandy alerts and updates page includes the survey instrument and instructions released by DOH, OMH, OASAS & OPWDD to collect data on the costs and damages sustained by community health and behavioral health providers impacted by Hurricane Sandy. OASAS has also posted a detailed question & answer document on filling out the survey, which is due to DOH on Friday, December 14, 2012.

The OMH Hurricane Sandy resources page contains useful guidance documents on waiving certain provisions of State law and regulation in the affected area, requesting cash flow assistance from Medicaid for early release checks or to apply for a reduction in the percentage  of withhold for current recoupments, timeliness and other requirements for full intake assessments and comprehensive treatment plans, information for Personalized Recover Oriented Services (PROS) providers and their clients affected by the storm, off-site and relocated ambulatory treatment programs and services guidelines and more.


Fiscal Cliff Negotiations: Where Does Behavioral Health Stand?

As President Barack Obama and Congress debate a deal to avoid the so called “fiscal cliff” before year end, community-based behavioral health services are caught up in the mix.


As part of the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, $1.5T in automatic spending cuts will hit defense and nondefense programs over the next ten years, beginning on January 1, 2013. This could mean up to $300M in annual cuts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Among other important behavioral health programs, SAMHSA grants funding to states for community mental health services, along with prevention and treatment grants for alcohol and drug abuse. At the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Program, which funds Shelter Plus Care, SRO and Supportive Housing programs, could face $156M. While Medicaid and Medicare are exempt from sequestration, they are still vulnerable to cuts in any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Tax Rates and Deductions

Another part of the fiscal cliff standoff involves the expiration of several tax provisions, including the tax cuts initiated in 2001 and 2003, and the payroll tax cut of 2009. A point of contention involves allowing the tax rates for the top 2% of income earners to return to the pre-2001 levels (or at least some point in between). President Obama’s plan to raise over a trillion dollars in new revenue includes allowing the tax cuts to expire on the top 2%, while extending them for all other brackets. Speaker John Boehner’s plan calls for raising $800B in tax revenue by ending or limiting some tax deductions. However, specifics are not available, and would likely include capping the tax deduction for donations made to charitable organizations (or limit the tax benefit from such deductions). The impact of these policies would mean less incentive for people, particularly higher income earners, to support charities that depend on philanthropic revenue to provide community-based services.

We strongly urge you to contact your federal elected officials about the risks posed to the viability of community behavioral health programs and the charitable contributions that are their lifeline. You can look up your Senators and Representatives here: http://capwiz.com/cvmha/home/.


CPT Code Changes Take Effect January 1, 2013

Each year, the American Medical Association (AMA) institutes changes to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, which affect how providers bill all payers including Medicaid and Medicare. The most recent changes impact codes used for psychiatry and psychotherapy. Many of the codes that behavioral health providers currently use will be eliminated. The National Council for Behavioral Healthcare has prepared a briefing on the AMA’s changes posted in the Federal Register in November 2012.

For OMH Providers:

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) has created a crosswalk of the 2012 CPT codes to the 2013 codes. A review of the crosswalk and the 2013 CPT manual indicates that coding changes for certain clinic services do not match the definitions listed in the AMA CPT manual. OMH is aware of this, and has indicated that a reconvening of the original clinic workgroup could occur in January to open a discussion on the possibility of streamlining the coding process while adhering to current clinic regulations.

Meanwhile, if a primary payer requires a different code than Medicaid for a service, providers will need to adjust the claim prior to crossing it over to Medicaid. If your software is not ready for the new codes on January 1, 2013, OMH suggests two options: hold your claims until such time as your software is ready or use ePaces to process your claims.

For OASAS 822 Providers:

The NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has shared a crosswalk for 822 programs. Some of the procedures on the 822 list of APG services are affected by the code changes. Although only six procedures have coding changes, some now require the use of E & M codes with which many providers may not be familiar. As a follow-up to two November CPT/E&M coding workshops, The Coalition’s Professional Learning Center will soon announce a webinar based training on the use of the E & M codes for its membership.

The OASAS website instructs providers that are not prepared to use the new codes by January 1st to either use paper billing (assuming staff know how to use the new codes), or hold the billing for the period January 1 through April 1, 2013. It also states that providers who can demonstrate problems with cash flow due to the hold on billing submission can request an advance or accelerated payment from the Medicare contractor (NGS). Please keep us informed on your experience with this billing.


Trainings at The Center: Core Orientation to Person-Centered Practice

The Coalition’s Center for Recovery and Rehabilitation presents a free, two-day training on the basics of person-centered care. It will be facilitated by Margy Meath, Consultant with the New York Care Coordination Program, Inc.

Day 1: What are Person-Centered Practices?

Using a highly interactive training style, participants will explore the context for behavioral health care change, including an understanding of the definition of recovery, and becoming familiar with hallmarks, core values and guiding principles of person-centered practices. In addition, you will learn at least two tools (that can be used in practice) for more deeply getting to know an individual beyond their illness. Day 1 will be held on Monday, December 17, 2012, from 9:00am to 4:30pm at the Children’s Center/ACS – 429 First Avenue (between 29th and 30th Streets).

Day 2: Re-Aligning Relationships

Participants will focus on creating genuine and authentic relationships with the people they serve. The tools for doing so will be presented in a highly interactive fashion. Day 2 will convene on Tuesday, December 18, 2012, from 9:00am to 4:30pm at International Center for the Disabled – 340 East 24th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), in the cafeteria.

Register at: http://www.coalitionny.org/the_center/training/registration/registration.php?series_id=1192

Please note that registration requires that participants attend both sessions on Day 1 and Day 2. Each session will be held at two separate locations.


On the Passing of Jon Kest

Jon Kest, community activist on housing, labor and other progressive issues, passed away at the age of 57. He most recently was the Executive Director of New York Communities for Change. As one of the pioneers of his generation and mentor for many other change making activists, his loss resonates throughout our community and beyond. His family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to New York Communities for Change.


Around the Water Cooler

Kathryn D. Haslanger has been appointed by The Board of Trustees of JASA (Jewish Association Serving the Aging) to serve as its Chief Executive Officer. Kathryn, most recently at Coalition member Visiting Nurse Service of New York, brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication in the field of aging to the leading non-profit in New York serving over 53,000 older adults.  The appointment was effective on November 19, 2012. Ms. Haslanger succeeds Aileen Gitelson, who has been the respected leader of JASA for the last ten years. The Coalition is glad that she continues to contribute her wisdom to our community of agencies.

Safe Horizon has named Cindy Colter to serve as the Vice President of Domestic Violence Shelters. Colter was previously an Assistant Commissioner at the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, where she oversaw a citywide community development initiative that supported a diverse array of programs in high poverty neighborhoods.

Two Social Workers at the Institute for Community Living (ICL) will be honored by NASW-NYC as leaders in the profession. Benjamin Sher, the Associate Vice President for Training and Staff Development at ICL will be honored as a Mid-Career Social Work Leader for the profession. He has been with the organization for 18 years, and Brian Mundy is a Clinical and Evaluation Specialist at ICL, was also recognized as an Emerging Social Work Leader for his visionary and exemplary work within the profession.

Pesach Tikvah and SPOP (Service Program for Older People) have received $2,000 grants from The National Council for Behavioral Healthcare’s Project Helping Hands to assist with their Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. The grants are made possible through the generosity of the Ittleson Foundation, Janssen, Otsuka, and Optum Health.

Union Settlement Association has received a $50,000 grant from AT&T.  The grant will ensure that students from low-income families in East Harlem continue to have access to educational counseling, test prep, college workshops and visits, and biweekly activities that strengthen skills outside of the classroom.

Samaritan Village and Brooklyn Aids Task Force were among just 52 nationwide providers to be awarded Targeted Capacity Expansion (TCE) grants for their HIV programs through SAMHSA. The amounts were $438,797 and $475,000 respectively.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
6781 Job Developer/Employment Specialist

HR Assistant


Clinic Program Director, Full-Time


Director of Integrated Health Services

6796 Team Leader - LCSW
6802 Coding and Billing Compliance Auditor



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