An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Behavioral Health in New York
September 17, 2013
Today’s issue of Coalition Briefs comes to you straight from Washington D.C., where Coalition members and Coalition’s Jason Lippman, Senior Associate for Policy and Advocacy and New York State Hill Day Captain, have joined forces with 500+ behavioral health executives, administrators, board members, consumers, and community stakeholders have participated in a Monday’s full day of policy sessions on federal behavioral healthcare as part of the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Hill Day 2013. On Tuesday (today), we are making visits with staff from the offices of Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Yvette Clarke, Representative Nita Lowey, Representative Eliot Engel, Representative Michael Grimm and Representative Hakeem Jeffries to advocate for better resources for mental health and addictions treatment. Keep your eyes out for the next edition of Coalition Briefs for highlights!
Last month, OASAS Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, OMH Acting Commissioner John Tauriello, and Jason Helgerson, Medicaid Director announced that the timeline for NYS Medicaid behavioral health transformation was being delayed to January 1, 2015, for adults in New York City and July 1, 2015, for the rest of the State (children’s behavioral health services is now pushed back to January 1, 2016). The Coalition sees this as an opportunity for the State to make sure that implementation happens right. With that in mind, we continue to meet with State and City officials on the considerations and recommendations proposed in our position paper “ Behavioral Health Moves to Managed Care: The Coalition’s View.” In addition to our meetings with government, Coalition CEO, Phillip A. Saperia delivered testimony on August 27, 2013, at a joint public hearing held by OASAS and OMH on the development of their Statewide Comprehensive Plans. In our testimony, we focused on comparison points made in The Coalition’s position paper with last year’s Statewide Comprehensive Plans. Our position paper is designed to guide the development of the Request for Qualifications to be released to managed care organizations (which is now scheduled for February of 2014) and the points of accountability in the eventual contracts between the State and managed care organizations.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on September, 12, 2013, that New York State’s Medicaid Redesign Team’s (MRT) Supportive Housing initiative will undertake significant investments to create new affordable housing units and provide needed support to nearly 5,000 high-need individuals through capital investments to construct new supportive housing units, and rental subsidies and service supports for New York’s high-need Medicaid members. To date, this first phase includes a commitment of $46.7 million in capital funds to construct 12 new buildings in the next 24 to 36 months that will create 483 new supportive housing units, as well as $27.9 million in rent subsidies and services to support 4,355 individuals.
The Affordable Housing work group, which was created in Phase 2 of the MRT initiative, is comprised of more than 40 stakeholders, including our own Jason Lippman. The investments in new housing units and rental subsidies will increase housing options for vulnerable residents receiving Medicaid, including frail elderly New Yorkers living in the community, individuals with serious mental health and substance abuse disorders, those living with HIV and AIDS, individuals with developmental disabilities, and the chronic homeless populations.
In recognizing the problems OASAS providers have with disclosing patient identifying information in their incident reports to the Justice Center without consent from consumers (or when such consent has been revoked), OASAS has distributed a Qualified Service Organization Agreement. This agreement, which is between a provider and the Justice Center, allows them to fulfill their obligation to report an incident and cooperate in the investigation while simultaneously complying with federal confidentiality law, 42 CFR Part 2.
OMH Providers Note:
OMH confirmed that while this is an option for OASAS providers it does not apply to clinical information created and maintained by OMH licensed providers. OMH does not fall under the restrictions of the federal 42 CFR Part 2. They explain that disclosures to the Justice Center are mandated through the Social Services Law, which requires both mental health and substance use providers to disclose patient information to the Justice Center and OMH/OASAS. Federal HIPAA regulations also permit it under the health oversight exception. However, federal 42 CFR Part 2 regulations throw up a roadblock in terms of disclosures to the Justice Center for substance use providers without patient consent or a Qualified Service Organization Agreement.
As part of National Suicide Prevention Week, the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) outlined resources and initiatives offered by New York State to help prevent suicide, and announced the availability of the free "Safety Plan" app for iOS devices (iPod, iPod Touch and iPad). The app is designed to provide individuals with an emergency plan and prevention resources for suicide crises, and will extend the reach of the New York State Suicide Prevention Initiative. The application is free to download and will help individuals to identify suicide warning signs, create coping strategies, identify positive contacts and social settings to distract from the crisis, identify family members and friends available to help, find professional help and resources, and make their environment safe from lethal means that may be used in a suicide attempt. The app is available here. Alternate versions of this application for Android-compatible devices will be available in the coming months.
The NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in collaboration with the NYS Department of Health (DOH) have produced a factsheet to raise awareness about prescription drug misuse. Prescription drug misuse occurs when a person takes a prescription medication that is not prescribed for him/her, or takes it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Misuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction. According to the factsheet, nearly 15,000 people in the U.S. died from prescription analgesics overdoses in 2008, which was more than 3 times the rate recorded back in 1999. The factsheet also contains more information on the prevalence of prescription drug misuse, its impact, prevention approaches and useful resources. OASAS also has a webpage devoted to stopping prescription drug misuse.
FEGS Health & Human Services is pleased to announce the appointment of Kristin M. Woodlock, former Acting Commissioner of the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH), as its new Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Kristin will provide senior executive leadership and oversight across FEGS’ extensive portfolio of over $250 million healthcare and human service operations and programs, covering the areas of Health/Disabilities, Home Care, Housing, Employment/Workforce, Education, and Youth and Families. She will help shape and advance the organization’s plans for integration, innovation and expansion across FEGS’s healthcare and human service delivery network and working in partnership with government, managed care organizations and other third party payers, drive cost-effective programming and the highest-quality outcomes for persons served. The Coalition has worked closely with Kristin over the years she has been at OMH. We are happy that she will continue making contributions to our field and proud that she will be a leader in a Coalition member agency. We warmly welcome her to our family circle.
Michael Seereiter will assume the role of President and CEO of NYSRA/RRTI beginning October 1, 2013. Prior to serving as Director of Planning for the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH), Michael was the Administrator of the New York Makes Work Pay program, a federally-funded grant program lead by NYS OMH supporting competitive employment opportunities and outcomes for all New Yorkers with disabilities. Michael previously served as Director of Mental Hygiene Services in the New York State Executive Chamber, with oversight responsibility for the agencies serving people with psychiatric disabilities, developmental disabilities and addiction treatment needs. As a long time colleague and collaborator, we wish big success to Michael in his new position.
Jody Silver is the new Executive Director of Collaborative Support Programs, a private not-for-profit organization directed, managed and staffed through the collaborative efforts of mental health consumers, survivors and non-consumers. CSPNJ provides individualized, flexible community based services that promote responsibility, recovery and wellness. This is done through the creation and administration of self-help centers, supportive housing and advocacy for adults with mental health issues and other special needs. Until recently, Jody served as Director for the Office of Consumer Affairs at the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. Jody has long been a close associate of The Coalition family and, although we will miss her in NYC precincts, we couldn’t be prouder of her new leadership role. New Jersey and CSPNJ are fortunate to have her energies and talents.
Dr. Petros Levounis is now Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, which on November 1, 2013, will hold “Current Approaches in Urban Mental Health,” a day-long conference that will feature plenary sessions by national experts in the emerging field of Urban Mental Health. Petros Levounis, MD, MA, is a board-certified addiction psychiatrist. His academic interests include the psychotherapy and psychopharmacology of addiction and co-occurring psychiatric disorders, the teaching of psychiatry, gay and lesbian mental health and behavioral addictions.
Service Program for Older People (SPOP), Coalition’s long time member, was awarded an 18-month grant of $163,000 from The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation to support the expansion of its Mental Health Clinic for adults over age 55. SPOP is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and serves about 1,000 adults annually from throughout New York City. The centerpiece of the agency is its Mental Health Clinic, which offers short- and long-term therapy, including home visits for seniors who are too frail to travel for appointments.
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