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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 31, 2013

Attendees Get Plugged-in at Annual Coalition Conference

A packed house was on hand to hear the visions and thoughts from behavioral health leaders as the system readies itself for the major reforms in 2014. The event: Plugged into Behavioral Health: Health Homes and Beyond, was this year’s Coalition conference. It began with a dynamic kickoff from Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health (and former NYS OMH official). In her keynote address, Linda examined the rollout of federal healthcare reform, along with the integration of mental health, substance use and primary care services around the country.

Following the keynote, a panel of state officials outlined how New York is positioning itself to fully benefit from these various reforms. Jason Helgerson, the Medicaid Director at the NYS Department of Health (DOH), mapped out the continuing Medicaid redesign initiatives for behavioral health, the importance of the proposed Fully Integrated Dual Advantage (FIDA) demonstration project, and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Medicaid administration reform in New York. Robert Myers, the Senior Deputy Commissioner, Adult Services Director at the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) presented on the changing healthcare landscape, focusing on Health Homes and Health and Recovery Plans (HARPs)—formerly known as Special Needs Plans (SNPs). Robert Kent, General Counsel of the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Use Services (OASAS) addressed the future of substance use services with the move to integration and behavioral health managed care.

In the afternoon, we jumped to the City’s perspective with Dr. Adam Karpati, the Executive Deputy Commissioner at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and Andrea Cohen, the Director of Health Services at the NYC Office of the Mayor/Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. Through initiatives like HEAL 22, the City is looking to prioritize behavioral health in improving overall health outcomes. The City panel was followed by a presentation on establishing the New York Health Benefit Exchange under federal healthcare reform, from Lisa Sbrana, Counsel for the New York Health Benefit Exchange.

Next came reactions and responses from a panel containing Harvey Rosenthal, Executive Director, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Amy Kohn, CEO of the Mental Health Association of Westchester (and Coalition Board member) and Donna Colonna, President and CEO of Services for the Underserved (SUS) and President of The Coalition.

The final portions of the Plugged-in conference zoomed in on children and families, with a presentation on the future of children’s behavioral health in the context of Medicaid redesign and healthcare reform from Kristin Woodlock, Acting Commissioner OMH. Then came a children’s respondent panel featuring Gail B. Nayowith, Executive Director, SCO Family of Services and Chair, Children’s Behavioral Health MRT, Dr. Adam Karpati, Executive Deputy Commissioner, DOHMH, Jennifer March-Joly, Executive Director, Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York and James F. Purcell, Chief Executive Officer, Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies.

The PowerPoint presentations from The Coalition’s conference are on our website.  


Governor Cuomo Releases 2013-14 Executive Budget; Coalition Gears Up for Albany Advocacy Days

You could hear the buzz from the halls of the Capitol and beyond last week as Governor Cuomo announced his 2013-2014 Executive Budget proposal. This year’s Executive budget includes a number of positive initiatives, including:

  • Making permanent licensing exemption requirements for certain social work and mental health professionals
  • Offering $15 million in much needed grants for Health Homes startup and infrastructure costs and $10M to allow consumers in Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) and individuals discharged from state psychiatric hospitals to have greater access to services in the community through Health Homes
  • Funding supportive housing development, including $91 million for MRT housing initiatives (which could rise to $178 million with federal matching funds). In addition, over 8,000 OMH supportive housing units were proposed for residents in nursing homes, individuals in adult homes and homeless housing. At OASAS, an increase in the number of NY/NY III units was proposed for families that homeless and the head of household suffers from an addiction.
  • Restructuring of state psychiatric centers by creating “regional centers of excellence” to diagnosis and treat individuals with complex behavioral health issues. Savings will be reinvested into community-based services.
  • Proposing a new affordable housing initiative called House NY. It would invest $1 billion over five years to preserve and create 14,300 affordable housing units statewide.

The Coalition is seeking more details about a potentially impactful initiative for $15 million that would focus on integrating behavioral and primary health clinic services for individuals on Medicaid.

The Coalition is also concerned about the proposals in the Executive Budget which would repeal prescriber prevails for atypical antipsychotics under Medicaid managed care, and the 2015 sunset of the requirement to enhance Medicaid payments for outpatient mental health services in managed care. On these notes and more, as our budget learning deepens, The Coalition is currently assembling our advocacy agenda for our visits with members of the legislature and officials in government during our Albany Advocacy Days set for March 11 & 12. Stay tuned for details.


NYS Legislative Leadership Posts & Committee Chairs Announced

Last week, Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senators Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos announced the new leadership positions and committee chairs for the 2013-2014 legislative session. The Coalition welcomes the newly appointed Mental Health Committee Chairs: Aileen M. Gunther in the Assembly and David Carlucci in the Senate; and the new Chair of the Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Committee in the Assembly, James Sanders, Jr. We look forward to continuing our interactions with Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, who was reappointed as the Chair of the Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Committee in the Assembly. The Coalition also sends best wishes to Assembly Member Felix W. Ortiz, who will now be the new Chair of the Cities Committee. We very much enjoyed working with Assembly Member Ortiz during his tenure as Mental Health Chair in the Assembly.


HELP Convenes Hearing on Mental Healthcare in the U.S.

On January 24th, the federal Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on the state of the U.S. mental healthcare system. It was organized in response to the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Among the witnesses testifying were Pamela Hyde, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Michael Hogan Ph.D., recent Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health, and Chairman of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health; and Larry Fricks, Senior Consultant at the National Council for Behavioral Health.

In her testimony, Pamela Hyde underscored how 20 years of behavioral health research has revealed: 1) most people who are violent do not have a mental disorder, 2) most people with a mental disorder are not violent and 3) people with mental illnesses are more likely to be the victims of violent attacks than the general population. Ms. Hyde stated in her testimony that it is demographic variables like age, gender and socioeconomic status that are more reliable predictors of violence than mental illness. Both she and Michael Hogan spoke to the unmet needs in the system. They also highlighted the significance of the Mental Health Equity and Addictions Parity Act (MHEAPA) for including mental illness in healthcare, and the opportunities available under the Affordable Care Act to build upon it, as major improvements for access to mental healthcare. Furthermore, there is the need for integration of behavioral and physical healthcare, along with early screening for mental illness to prevent crisis situations from occurring. Unfortunately, there also barriers to these reforms, such as allowable billing and the lack of federal standards. Later on in the hearing, Larry Fricks talked about his own experience with mental illness, navigation of the mental healthcare system, recovery and the stigma and discrimination associated with it. He highlighted the role of peer specialists in recovery, self management and promoting whole health.


A Quick Look at the New HIPAA Omnibus Rule

On January 17, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights issued its Omnibus Rule on HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification requirements. While much of the rule was anticipated from what was initially posted in the interim rule, there are a few significant changes to report. Below are just a few highlights:

  • Extension of HITECH regulations to business associates who may be penalized for violations of the Security Rule and some Privacy Rule requirements. The rule broadens the definition of a business associate (entities who create, receive, maintain or transmit protected health information “PHI” on behalf of a covered entity). The rule also specifically recognizes Health Information Organizations, e-prescribing Gateways or persons who provide data transmission services of PHI to a covered entity which requires routine access to such PHI as business associates. Business associates must be amended by 9/23/13. HHS has a new sample agreement available on its website.
  • Requirement for providers to do an assessment of each potential breach to determine the risk that PHI was compromised. The rule provides four factors which must be considered: what information was breached; who used or received the PHI; whether the PHI was actually viewed, used or disclosed; and how the risk was mitigated.
  • Changes to privacy notices, which must now include a statement that: 1) an individual’s authorization is required for most uses and disclosures of psychotherapy notes, PHI for marketing proposes and sale of PHI; and 2) any uses or disclosures not included in the privacy notice will be made only with the individual’s authorization.
  • Strengthens the limitations on the use and disclosure of PHI for marketing and fundraising purposes and requires individual authorization for the sale of PHI.
  • Expands individuals’ right to receive electronic copies of their health information and to restrict disclosures to a health plan concerning treatment for which the individual has paid in full out-of-pocket.

While the effective date is March 26, 2013 a grace period extends the enforcement date to September 26, 2013. More information about the final rule is available on The Coalition’s website.


Trainings at The Center: Comprehensive Benefits Management (3-day intensive training)

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery will hold three days of intensive training for direct service staff who require expertise in benefits counseling, such as providers working in PROS programs. Participants will learn how to utilize the Social Security Administration’s work incentive provisions to help consumers achieve their employment goals. The Center’s expert trainer, Ray Cebula, Esq., will discuss how recent legislative changes may impact consumers. Participants will have an opportunity to apply newly acquired systems knowledge through in-depth case studies.

Dates: March 11, 12 & 13, 2013
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Location:  FedEx training offices at 16 E. 52nd Street in Manhattan
Trainer: Ray Cebula, Esq.

Mr. Cebula, from Cornell University’s Institute for Labor Relations is a specialist in post-entitlement and return to work issues, focused on employment and disability. In addition to his training and technical assistance work across the country, Mr. Cebula also serves as the primary instructor and developer of ediONLINE; the institute's distance learning program for benefits planners and other interested in learning about the Social Security disability and work incentive programming.


Around the Water Cooler

The Coalition is thrilled that Amanda Saake of Goodwill Industries’ PROS program will join our Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery as a Senior Program Associate on February 12. Amanda will work on a variety of projects, including course training and consultation services for PROS programs. Please join us in welcoming her.

 Stella V. Pappas, LCSW-R, ACSW, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Institute for Community Living (ICL) was selected among hundreds of applicants from across the county to participate in a new national Executive Leadership Program of the National Council for Behavioral Health. Congratulations to Stella and ICL.

Mark Hurwitz is now the new President/CEO of Palladia. He joins Palladia after several years at Project Renewal where he served as Deputy Director. Mark has over 20 years of professional experience, including his work at the NYC Department of Homeless Services, and at the Urban Justice Center as founder and director of the Mental Health Project. We wish Mark good luck in his new role at Palladia, and send our best wishes to Palladia’s outgoing President, Jane Velez.

Kathy McDermott, Chief Financial Officer of the Center for Urban and Community Services (CUCS), will leave CUCS on February 8th after 15 years of dedicated service. She will join New York University (NYU) as the Associate Dean for Finance and Resource Development at the Tisch School of the Arts. Good fortune, Kathy. 

Christopher Keane, RN, MSN, FNP, has been named the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS). Keane will be responsible for the daily operations of the agency's 21 mental health and related programs that serve more than 5,300 children with special needs and their families, at 25 locations throughout the borough.

Volunteers of America-Greater NY and the Housing Collaborative have broken ground on the first supportive housing development under the state's Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) Housing Capital Program. The future Creston Avenue Residence, located at 2382-2388 Creston Avenue in the Fordham section of the Bronx, will be home to 66 high-need Medicaid clients, low-income families and disabled veterans.

The Clubhouse of Suffolk and the Mental Health Association in Suffolk have agreed to merge. The two entities have been long time partners in combating stigma and promoting a better understanding of mental health. By formally merging, these two entities hope to be more responsive to the pressing needs of the community.

The Pederson-Krag Center and OptumHealth are partnering to launch The Community Stabilization Pilot Program. Its goal is to stabilize and integrate services for high-utilization populations, mainly to adults who suffer from mental illness. A particular focus will be on co-occurring substance abuse disorders, medical needs and homelessness with an emphasis on overall "wellness”. Pederson-Krag, is sponsored by PSCH (a Coalition member) currently has six facilities throughout Suffolk County, serving approximately 4,500 individuals.

Brooklyn Community Services (BCS) has been awarded a $110,000, two-year grant from the van Ameringen Foundation, Inc. The grant will be used to support BCS's Adolescent Employment and Education Program (AEEP), which each year serves more than 100 disconnected youth aged 16-21 who have dropped out of high school and have been diagnosed with serious emotional disturbances (SED). 


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
6860 Residence Manager HRA Scatter Site Bkln & Qns

Housing and Property Development Director


VP of Human Resources


Bilingual Social Worker, Full-Time

6866 Social Worker / Substance Abuse Specialist
6867 Senior Director of Finance, Operations and Planning



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