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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
             February 13, 2014

Mayor de Blasio Presents Preliminary Budget Proposal

Yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined his vision for a progressive and fiscally responsible Preliminary Budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2015. In his first budgetary address, Mayor de Blasio promised “to begin a process for putting an end to the budget dance,” referring to the negotiations that the Mayor and City Council engage in each year to fund various community initiatives in the budget. This “dance” repeatedly requires providers, The Coalition and our advocacy partners to fight for the restoration of needed service dollars in the City’s budget each year, in order to maintain the flow of funding to programs that serve not just people with mental illness and substance use disorders, but a entire spectrum of human services programs. We are hopeful that a forward thinking and more practical budget process will prevail in the years ahead.

Mayor de Blasio's budget maintains the baselining status of the Mental Health Contracts, Geriatric Mental Health and Children Under Five Initiatives, as well as the Mental Hygiene Contracted services PEG restoations (progams to eliminate the gap or budget cuts). The budget also proposes the restoration of funding for community-based programs at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), including substance use disorder clinics, work readiness and case management services. We believe this to be restorations from previous PEGs. The Coalition is seeking more information on which programs were reinstated. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.


Coalition Prepares for Albany Advocacy Days 2014-2015 Executive Budget

The Coalition is finalizing its advocacy agenda and member delegation for our annual Albany Advocacy Days set for March 10th & 11th. We plan to meet with key members of the State Legislature and officials in the Executive Branch on a number of critical initiatives that were presented by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2014-2015 Executive budget proposal. This includes the reinvestment of accrued behavioral health savings into community programs, clinic rate protections, startup funding in preparation for managed care and the enhancement and development of supportive housing. Among the initiatives being backed by The Coalition, with some caveats, are for the State to:

  • Dedicate sufficient reinvestments in community behavioral health services to ensure that local capacity is preserved during transformation to managed care.
  • Create wide access to recovery-based “1915(i)-like services” in managed care plans. These services comprise rehabilitation, habilitation, crisis intervention, peer, educational, employment and other supports.
  • Ensure clinic rate protections during the transition to managed care. This includes the extension of guaranteed payments for clinical services at OMH & OASAS licensed clinics.
  • Sustain and expand supportive housing programs sanctioned by the MRT Affordable Housing Work Group to provide stable homes to people who use a high degree of Medicaid services.
  • Initiate an OMH supportive housing rental stipend increase to help cover the rising cost of rents in Westchester, New York City and Long Island.
  • Establish a mechanism for OASAS long-term residential service providers to leverage Medicaid dollars for clinical services under managed care.
  • Reinvest savings accumulated from the closure of State Psychiatric Center beds into community services.

To read more about our developing advocacy agenda, please view The Coalition’s Executive budget testimony submitted for this week’s hearing on Mental Hygiene initiatives affected by the budget.


Attendees Rise to the Challenge at Coalition’s Annual Conference

The hall was abuzz with interest and excitement as a packed house was on hand to catch the visions and thoughts from behavioral health leaders at The Coalition’s annual conference, “Rising to the Challenge,” which took place January 23, 2014.

First, participants heard a rousing and passionate speech on behavioral health parity and reform from our keynote speaker, former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy. The audience rose to applause as Mr. Kennedy kicked off our conference, setting the tone for the remainder of the day. Our keynote presentation was immediately followed by Jason A. Helgerson, Medicaid Director at the NYS Department of Health (DOH), who outlined the State’s goals for Medicaid redesign as it pertains to behavioral health reform. Then, Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, Commissioner of the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Use Services (OASAS), spoke about opportunities in the new environment with respect to the delivery of more integrated substance use services.

Ann Marie Sullivan, M.D., Acting Commissioner of the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) gave us her insight into the new behavioral health landscape from the State level, and Adam Karpati, M.D., Executive Deputy Commissioner at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) provided his understanding of behavioral health integration form the City perspective. The audience also had a chance to hear and respond to panel discussions with representatives from managed care companies and behavioral health providers, including: Beacon Health Strategies, Healthfirst, OptumHealth, ICL, VIP Community Services and Project Renewal.

Slides and photos from The Coalition’s conference are available on our website.


Parachute Crisis Respite Centers

Parachute NYC is an innovative community-based approach providing a "soft landing" for people in emotional crisis. This alternative to hospitalization offers a warm, supportive, home-like setting, as well as 24-hour support from trained Peer Counselors. In addition to the crisis respite centers themselves, the Parachute model includes mobile treatment teams, and a support line, as needed. Interventions are tailored to the needs and aspirations of guests, who learn new recovery and relapse prevention skills.

Parachute Crisis Respite Centers now open include the Bronx Crisis Respite Center, managed by the Riverdale Mental Health Association, the Brooklyn Crisis Respite Center, run by Services for the Underserved, and the Manhattan Crisis Respite Center operated by Community Access.


New Housing Program for Young Adults

ACMH, Inc.’s Young Adult Apartments (YAA) at Markus Gardens has an innovative housing design that will provide a normalized apartment living environment with readily accessible peer and professional supports. YAA will provide services that will enable the young adults to learn coping skills to manage their mental wellness, as well as develop age-appropriate goals that will enable them to transition to mainstream housing. This program will serve those who are between the ages of 18-24 years of age with a SMI and are being discharged from OMH licensed Residential Treatment Facilities for children and adolescents or state-operated psychiatric facilities; or are leaving or have recently left foster care. Referrals can be sent to: Jessica Tannenbaum, 254 W. 31st Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10001; Phone: (212) 274-8558; Fax: (212) 925-7958


Conference on The Behavioral Addictions

Dr. Petros Levounis, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers University, a Coalition Trainer and Leadership award recipient will lead a conference called “The Behavioral Addictions” on Friday May 2, 2014. This conference will examine the latest clinical and research findings in this fascinating area by featuring plenary sessions and interactive round table workshops on the emerging field of the Behavioral Addictions. 

The conference will be of interest to counselors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, psychologists, researchers, social workers, students, and trainees. Continuing Education credits will be offered. Registration: Healthcare professionals - $90; Full-time students and trainees - $50.

For more information, please visit http://njms.rutgers.edu/departments/psychiatry/


Trainings at The Coalition

You can check out and register for the latest trainings being offered at The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery and our Professional Learning Center online. Upcoming seminars include trainings on Managed Care - Quality Measures on April 15th and PROS ADVANCED CBT and Skills Development in Groups on February 27th.


Around the Water Cooler

A note from the staff at The Coalition: After 5 and half plus years of drinking from the water cooler, Jason Lippman, Director of Policy and Advocacy at The Coalition (and writer of Coalition Briefs) will be moving to Amida Care as the Director of Public Policy and Government Relations. We will miss Jason’s insightful contributions, his wonderfully crafted Briefs articles, and not to be discounted – his wonderful sense of humor which has sustained us through every City and State budget session.  We wish him well and hope for many opportunities to collaborate in the future.

Dr. Adam Karpati, Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has announced that he will be leaving his post to join Union North America, a nongovernmental organization working on public health issues in developing countries. We congratulate Dr. Karpati, and thank him for his tireless work on setting behavioral health policy for New Yorker’s with mental health and substance use needs, and as an active representative on the State’s Medicaid Redesign Team Behavioral Health Reform Work Group as behavioral health transitions to managed care.

Michael Stoller has announced that he will be stepping down as Executive Director of the Human Services Council. Stoller has led HSC since joining the organization in January 2003. In an email to friends and colleagues, Michael expressed his passion for working with the human services providers, and that he would likely be leaving HSC by the end of February to take a new position which was not yet publicly known. We will certainly miss working and advocating with Michael at HSC, and wish him the best in his next adventure.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children's Aid Society, to be the City's Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. The newly created post will direct many of the administration's signature initiatives requiring major interagency collaboration, from providing free, full-day pre-kindergarten to every child, to launching 100 new community schools that support families in low-income neighborhoods.

Traci Donnelly is now the new Executive Director of The Child Center of New York City.  She succeeds our long-time colleague and friend, Sandra Hagan, who has been an influential and active member of The Coalition, as a Board member and Co-Chair of the Coalition’s Children’s Committee. Ms. Donnelly was previously the agency's Chief Operating Officer. She began her career at The Child Center last July transitioning from senior management at Phoenix House. She brings more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit administration, substance abuse treatment and special education.

Beth Covelli has joined the management team at Outreach Project as the Senior Director of Outpatient Substance Abuse Services for NYC, overseeing a wide range of services for adolescents, women and other adults in English, Spanish, and Polish in Richmond Hill and Greenpoint Brooklyn. Ms. Covelli most recently served as Director, Jamaica Family Center - Outpatient Substance Abuse Services at The Child Center of New York. She will also continue on in her role as the Chair of the Queens Consortium on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
7580 Clinical Supervisor - Manhattan CIRT
7581 HIV Program Coordinator

Physician MMTP, Consultant


Vice President of Finance


Software Applications Trainer

7589 Services Director (Full Time)
7600 Director of Policy and Advocacy



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