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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
            June 17, 2015

CMS Proposes Parity Rule for Managed-care Plans

The proposed rule applies provisions of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 to managed-care plans contracting with Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It would ensure that beneficiaries have access to mental health and substance abuse benefits regardless of whether services are provided under the auspices of a managed-care organization (MCO) or another service delivery system.


NYS Assembly and Senate Pass Bill Limiting Judicial Authority to Demand that Defendants Stop Medication Assisted Treatments

S.04239-B/(Murphy)/A.6255-B (Rosenthal) has passed the State Assembly and Senate and awaits the Governor’s signature. This legislation establishes statewide uniformity in drug treatment courts to allow defendants to obtain medically prescribed treatment for opioid abuse or dependence while participating in the judicial diversion program. Judges will no longer have the authority to order defendants to stop medication-assisted treatment (methadone, Vivitrol and buprenorphine) in order to participate in drug courts, a uniquely collaborative approach to treatment: upon voluntary entry into court-supervised programs, appropriate non-violent addicted offenders become part of an intervention process. The Coalition supported this legislation and urges Governor Cuomo to sign it.

The Coalition Issued Memos of Support/Opposition to Bills Pending in the State Legislature:

  • S.5486-A (Ortt, Hannon)/A.7846-A (Cahill), prohibits a health care insurer from requiring providers of behavioral health services to offer all products offered by the provider of health care coverage. The Coalition strongly supports this bill, which has been passed by the Senate and urges the Assembly to follow suit.
  • S.4542-A (Klein)/A.2553-A (Benedetto), would place new, restrictive and (likely) illegal roadblocks to siting and lease renewal of supportive housing and social service centers (including domestic violence shelters). This bill has passed the Senate and is in the Assembly Committee on Cities. The Coalition is emphatically opposed to this legislation and has been meeting with members in the Assembly to stop it from moving forward.
  • S.5275 (Golden)/A.6879 (Blake) is similar though supposedly less expansive to S.4542-A/A.2553-A (the Klein/Benedetto bill), but is drafted so poorly it may encompass even a greater number of programs. This bill has not been voted out of Committee in either the Assembly or the Senate and The Coalition will attempt to ensure that it does not move forward.


Over 130 People Gather to Honor the Life and Work of Ana Charle Director of the Bronx Boulevard Shelter

On April 30th, in the face of tragedy and community backlash, over 130 allies including members of behavioral health and shelter provider communities held a silent vigil to honor Ana Charle who was allegedly murdered by a former resident of the Bronx Boulevard Shelter, which she directed. The shelter is operated by Project Renewal, a Coalition member. (Unfortunately, the day after Ms. Charle’s passing, certain local elected officials attempted to use this tragic event as an opportunity to hold a press conference calling for the shelter’s ouster.)

The silent vigil, organized by Christy Parque, Executive Director of our advocacy partner, Homeless Services United, was to show support for Ms. Charle’s family, the shelter’s employees and residents. The vigil participants greatly outnumbered the individuals at the “NIMBY” rally.


The Coalition Welcomes New Members

Since our last issue of Briefs, we’ve been joined by 2 members and 2 affiliate members:

New Members

Inwood Community Services develops and provides programming that addresses critical service needs of the Inwood and Washington Heights communities including but not limited to: youth development services, counseling and addiction services, educational, recreational, and cultural activities and community mobilization and empowerment efforts.

Leake & Watts is a not-for-profit agency committed to addressing a myriad of challenges that confront individuals and families dealing with poverty, disabilities, and a lack of access to education and basic services. They provide early childhood services, children and family services, services to children and adults with developmental disabilities and juvenile justice services.

New Affiliate Members

HMA (Health Management Associates) provides consulting services on publicly financed health care to government, public and private providers, health systems, health plans, institutional investors, foundations and associations

For than 2 decades, IMA Systems has provide EHR / Practice Management software for behavioral health agencies in New York to meet the state’s very demanding requirements – as well as all the requirements of the federal government.

Welcome to The Coalition!


Around the Water Cooler

As The Coalition continues its City Budget advocacy, Coalition staffer Jamin Sewell, was joined on the steps of City Hall by SCO Family of Services staff: Joan Whelan, Anthony Abner and Dinorah Gonzales. SCO receives funding through the NYC Council’s Mental Health Services for Court-Involved Youth funding initiative.

Jamin Sewell, The Coalition; Dinorah Gonzales, Joan Whelan and Anthony Abner of SCO Family Services on the steps of City Hall.

Community Access’s respite center which is part of the Parachute NYC program was highlighted in the Huffington Post and on CNN

Douglas O’Dell was appointed by the SCO Family of Services Board of Directors as the agency’s Executive Director. Mr. O’Dell, a widely respected leader in the field, was appointed SCO’s Interim Executive Director on November 1, 2014, and previously served as one of SCO’s key executives in the capacity of Chief Program Officer. Congratulations, Doug and welcome to The Coalition family!


On June 4th, Jessica Feldman and Amanda Saake of The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation & Recovery presented a workshop entitled, “Where the Rubber Meets the Road: How to Make Skills Training Individualized, Interactive, & Fun!” along with Susan Gingerich (co-author of Illness Management & Recovery and Social Skills Training for Schizophrenia) at the 2015 Recovery Workforce Summit, hosted by the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA) in Philadelphia. Congratulations Jessica and Amanda!

Christian Huygen, Executive Director of the Rainbow Heights Club, will be conducting a series of trainings on behalf of DOHMH for behavioral health service providers to better serve their transgender consumers and assist them with obtaining the documentation necessary to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. Over a dozen trainings will be held in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island during the months of May and June. DOHMH should be commended for sponsoring this groundbreaking training.

The Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services named John Kastan Chief Program Officer. He previously was senior vice president of strategy and business development at PSCH, another Coalition member.

MHA of NYC’s wholly owned subsidiary, Link2Health Solutions, has been awarded the opportunity by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to continue administering the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Disaster Distress Helpline through 2018. Kudos to MHA of NYC!

In a press conference on May 21st, MHA of NYC also announced that HOPEline, its addiction referral and support service, now allows New Yorkers to reach specially-trained behavioral health professionals through text messaging. This is an important new communications tool, especially for young people who routinely text their friends and families. By reaching out to the HOPEline, all New Yorkers can be linked to life-changing services that can put them on their way to recovery. The press conference was attended by OASAS Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez and New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, the Chair of the Assembly’s Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.

The Journal News has published a series of articles on MHA of Westchester’s work regarding suicide and effective suicide prevention.

For the 6th year in a row Outreach was named, “One of the Best Companies to Work for in New York” by The Best Companies program, which is a partnership of the New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM), The Business Council of New York, Best Companies Group, and Journal Multimedia Corporation.



New York Nonprofit News highlighted JoAnne Page, President & CEO of The Fortune Society in its CEO Corner Interview section.

Stanley Richards, a Senior Vice President at The Fortune Society, was appointed to the New York City Board of Correction. Mr. Richards has over 20 years of experience helping formerly incarcerated individuals with their re-entry to society. He is also the first person with personal experience with the correction system as a formerly incarcerated individual to be appointed to the Board. Much respect!

SUS held a ribbon cutting for its new Truxton Residence in the Brownsville/Ocean Hill section of Brooklyn. Truxton Residence will offer 48-unit studio apartments--80% percent of the units reserved for homeless single adults with mental illness and 20% reserved for low-income single adults.

From left: Latrice Walker, New York State Assembly Member, District 55;Ray Hodges,Director of Planning and Development of Special Needs Housing, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD);Bettie Kollock-Wallace, Chair, Community Board 16; Donna Colonna, CEO, SUS; Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader, Enterprise;and Nannearl Blackshear, Brooklyn North Director, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams gather to plant a blueberry bush at the Truxton Residence housewarming event. Top right: SUS' CEO Donna Colonna welcomes residents to their new home.

In more SUS news, on July 1, SUS will take over the contract for a men's shelter in Brooklyn from SCO Family of Services. The Renaissance Shelter serves 175 to 200 men in Crown Heights. See this article from Crain’s Health Pulse for more on this news.

Samaritan Village has been chosen by the City and a Federal Court receiver to conduct an assessment of the Narco Freedom programs and services. Samaritan Village will perform the assessment and propose options for the Temporary Receiver over the next thirty days. 

On May 20th Phillip Saperia was honored by Behavioral Health News with its Advocacy Award at its 1st Annual Awards Reception. The other honorees were Alan Siskind, former CEO at JBFCS and a former Coalition President and Andrew Solomon, the celebrated author and Columbia professor.

Ira H. Minot, Founder & Director and David H. Minot, BA, Associate Director, Behavioral Health News, Phillip Saperia, CEO of the The Coalition and Dr. Jorge Petit, Jorge R. Petit, MD, President of Quality Healthcare Solutions Group and Chairman of Mental Health News Education, Inc. at the Behavioral Health News Awards Reception.

Phillip also had a letter, written with Christy Parque, Executive Director of Homeless Services United, published in the Daily News, which was sent in response to an editorial which referred to homeless people with mental illness as monsters and suggested they be “locked away.” Phoenix House highlighted the letter in its In the Headlines blog.

Finally, Phillip was quoted in an article in Capital, regarding NYC First Lady, Chirlane McCray’s Mental Health Roadmap and the funding associated with in the Mayor’s Executive Budget.

Jamin Sewell, The Coalition’s advocacy director was quoted in a Daily News story regarding potential cuts to mental health programs in the City budget.

On May 6th, Union Settlement unveiled the newly renovated Education Center in the Washington Houses Community Center, which was carried out with a $50,000 grant and volunteer services from the New York Junior League (NYJL). The NYJL selected Union Settlement as its Community Impact Partner (CIP) for the 2015 calendar year.

Michael Zisser, CEO of University Settlement and The Door, and co-founder of Broome Street Academy, has announced his retirement in the Spring of 2016. Mr. Zisser has been affiliated with University Settlement since the 1960’s and has been CEO of University Settlement and The Door since 2000. Some of us at The Coalition have worked with Michael for many years. We wish him great success and satisfaction in this next iteration of his life.

Other News of Note

NYS Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) is one of five finalists in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. As one of the finalists, the MRT will compete for a prize of $10,000.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is sponsoring a four-topic webinar series, entitled Addressing Serious Mental Illness: Effective Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Strategies. These webinars are offered May-August 2015 by the partners in the Mental Health Block Grant Coalition, which has been developed and sponsored by SAMHSA. More information on the series can be found here.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
8695 Program Coordinator/Staff Generalist
8699 Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


Transition Specialist, Young Adult Apartments at Markus Gardens


Case Manager Supported Housing


Application Support Specialist-Clinical

8721 Respite Worker
8725 PROS Recovery Counselor
8726 Senior Director of Evaluation and Quality Improvement
8729 Clinical Social Worker, Choices ATD After School Program



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