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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
            August 20, 2015

Funds Designated for Coalition Members in NYC Council Geriatric Mental Health & Mental Health Contracts Initiatives

On August 13, 2015, The City Council voted on the final designations for FY ‘16 funds allocated to mental health, substance use disorder and developmental disabilities.

In a huge victory, The Council designated the restored funding from the $2 million Geriatric Mental Health Initiative to nearly all of the providers at the same levels as the previous year. As we’ve mentioned in previous Briefs these funds were baselined and slated to be allocated via a DOHMH RFP process. The Coalition and our advocacy partners were successful in convincing the City Council that given the changes DOHMH proposed to the initiative and the lateness in issuing an RFP (it was mid-June and still no sign), the Council should negotiate with the de Blasio Administration to have the baselined funds return to the Council. The designation vote on August 13th represented the final step in the process of ensuring the funds would be restored to the current providers so that no consumers would be lost to care.

The Council also restored and enhanced funding to the “Mental Health Contracts initiatives,” which had also been baselined. The Coalition receives funding for its Professional Learning Center from this initiative. The new funding will be used for programming purposes for several new providers, which include Coalition members: Riverdale Mental Health Association, New Alternatives for Children and Brooklyn Community Services.

Various mental health, substance use disorder and developmental disability funding that had restored administration cuts in years past were all designated at the previous year’s level to the current providers as well. The Council rightly has removed the “gap filler” description for these allocations and they are now simply listed as funding initiatives.

The Council initiated a new $500,000 funding initiative called, “Medicaid Redesign Transition.” Council Member Andrew Cohen, chair of the City Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, proposed this initiative based, in part, on the testimony he heard at a hearing he held on this topic. The Coalition, its members and advocacy partners testified at the hearing about concerns regarding the economic viability of community-based providers during the transition to Medicaid managed care. The Council designated the funding to direct service providers (almost all of whom were Coalition members).

At budget adoption in late June, the Council restored and designated the funding for the Children Under 5 Mental Health Initiative at the previous year’s level to all of the providers previously funded and restored the Court-Involved Youth Initiative with a $900,000 enhancement (all of which went to Coalition members either to add new providers or for expanded funding to providers from the previous fiscal year).

All told, The Coalition had a role in advocating for the allocation of nearly $11 million in initiatives (includes the “Autism Awareness Initiative” which we were asked by our advocacy partners to support as well).

Here are charts with all of the Mental Health Initiative designations for the current fiscal year, for your information.


Senators Alexander and Murray Introduce Bi-Partisan Behavioral Health Legislation

On July 29, 2015, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced S.1983, The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2015 with 19 other cosponsors of both political parties. Key provisions of the bill include:

  • Awareness Training – Authorizes grants to states and other entities to train teachers, appropriate school personnel, emergency services personnel, and others to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness and to de-escalate crises, using training curricula such as Mental Health First Aid.
  • Opioid Use Disorder Treatment – Directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to leverage current initiatives to increase awareness of FDA-approved treatments for opioid use disorders, with a report to be prepared on those efforts, including on “the role of adherence in the treatment of opioid use disorders and recommendations on priorities and strategies to address co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illness.”
  • Suicide Prevention – Solidifies the role of the federally supported suicide technical assistance center in providing information and training on prevention, surveillance and interventions for all age groups; reauthorizes the Youth Suicide Early Intervention and Prevention Strategies grants with a continuation option for states; and reauthorizes the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services on Campuses grant program.
  • Children’s Recovery – Reauthorizes the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative and supports data collection and analysis, among other provisions.

With our partners in the National Council, we will be closely monitoring the progress of this important legislation.


Hyde Steps Down as Administrator of SAMHSA

Pamela Hyde has resigned after six hears at the helm of the federal agency that oversees behavioral health services. She was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November 2009 as Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Health & Human Services Secretary, Sylvia Burwell, in a letter announcing Hyde’s resignation, said:

“During her tenure, Pam has taken on a number of leadership roles. She worked with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the Surgeon General to create the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Strategy. Pam and her team helped to plan and execute the 2013 White House Conference on Mental Health, launching a national dialogue on mental health. Pam spearheaded the Department’s work surrounding President Obama’s Now is the Time initiative, which among its many goals, aims to increase access to mental health services across the United States. Pam has also been integral to the Administration’s work in response to the crisis of opioid and prescription drug use and misuse, working to expand access to life-saving overdose reversal medication, as well as medication assisted treatment for those with opioid addiction.

She has been a steadfast leader for SAMSHA. Pam has helped to lead the HHS Behavioral Health Coordinating Council and has worked to integrate behavioral health into all of HHS’ coverage, prevention, treatment, and human services programs.  She has been involved in implementing landmark mental health parity legislation, and worked to develop strong systems of prevention and treatment for those who experience mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Pam’s commitment to her work at SAMHSA is remarkable. She has spent her career as a mental health policy expert and advocate and delivered impact for the American people. I am thankful to have served alongside her at the Department.”

Kana Enomoto, SAMHSA’s Principal Deputy Administrator, has agreed to serve as the Acting Administrator.


Gov. Cuomo Appoints Francis Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services

On July 20, 2015, Paul Francis was appointed Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services. Previously, Mr. Francis served under Governor Cuomo as the Director of Agency Redesign. He has also previously served in New York State government as the Director of the Budget and the Director of State Operations. His business career includes serving as the Chief Financial Officer of Ann Taylor Stores Corporation and Priceline.com, as well as the Chief Operating Officer of the Financial Product Division of Bloomberg LP. Mr. Francis has served on the board of trustees of numerous organizations, including as the Chairman of the New York State Health Foundation prior to rejoining the Cuomo administration. Mr. Francis holds a J.D. from New York University and a B.A. from Yale University.

In his new position, he replaces Courtney Burke, who resigned last month as Deputy Secretary.


Prescriber Prevails Vetoed by Gov. Cuomo

On August 14, 2015, Governor Cuomo vetoed the “Prescriber Prevails” legislation (S. 4893 (Hannon)/A. 7208 (Gottfried)). The Coalition as well as many other provider and consumer advocacy groups strongly supported this bill which would have ensured that the prescriber would have the ultimate say in the determination of which medications were needed by a patient covered by Medicaid managed. Prescriber Prevails currently exists in Medicaid fee-for-service. Unfortunately, the Governor’s basis for vetoing the legislation was based on cost, not the care interests of the consumer.


Mayor de Blasio Announces Plan to Address at Risk SMI Population

At a “media roundtable” featuring the Mayor, NYC First Lady, Chirlane McCray, as well as Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners from DOHMH, NYPD, DHS and others, was held on August 6, 2015, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new $22.4 million annual effort to provide better care for people whose mental illness may place themselves or others at risk.

According to a factsheet accompanying the press release, the new initiative, dubbed ‘NYC Safe’, “is an unprecedented partnership between law enforcement and health care agencies that will completely change how the City intervenes to stop and respond to violence committed by people with serious mentally illness. NYC Safe will reach a historically marginalized population, connecting them to consistent care to avoid crises and violence.”

Key elements, including how much supportive housing will be created and where 4 new Forensic Assertive Community Treatment Teams (Forensic ACT) and 3 new Intensive Mobile Treatment Teams (which will provide 75 high concern individuals with intensive, high quality treatment) will be stationed, have not yet been determined. The teams are designed to keep people in treatment, even if they are in and out of jail or face housing instability.

An interagency communication hub has been created for DHS, DOHMH and NYPD to share intelligence on individuals deemed to be a danger to themselves and others. According to DOHMH’s Executive Deputy Commissioner, Gary Belkin, the individuals tracked through the “hub” are known to have committed violent acts in the DHS system and may or may not have a criminal record. Theoretically, these individuals can be tracked in real time and appropriate interventions can be made if violence is imminent.

More peace officers and mental health clinicians will be located in homeless shelters.

The Coalition welcomes this new focus and investment on behavioral health and looks forward to receiving the details of NYC Safe---particularly how many units of new supportive housing will be provided. Unfortunately, up until this point, the De Blasio administration has offered little or no opportunity for The Coalition and/or its members to provide experienced counsel on the creation and implementation of the plan. We stand ready to assist administration should it proceed with a more collaborative approach.


Jorge Petit Joins Beacon Health Options

Jorge Petit was named by Beacon Health Options as Regional Senior Vice President for the New York market. According to the press release, “Dr. Petit will work with stakeholders in the New York health care delivery system to develop strategies for improving behavioral health care throughout the state. He will oversee the delivery and coordination of mental health care and substance use disorder services for the company's more than 5.5 million New York members.”

A board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Petit joins Beacon from Quality Healthcare Solutions Group, a consulting and training firm he founded and served as president, which focused on patient care and health information technologies to improve health care systems. He also served as Associate Commissioner of NYC's Division of Mental Hygiene, DOHMH, where he managed a $280 million annual budget; oversaw all of the city's funded contracts and agreements in the areas of mental health, chemical dependency and developmental disabilities. Most recently he served as the Clinical Director for Integrated Care and Clinical Partnerships at the Institute for Family Health. Dr. Petit earned his medical degree from University of Buenos Aires and completed his psychiatry internship and residency at the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Medicine. Additionally, he completed a public psychiatry fellowship at Columbia Presbyterian-New York State Psychiatric Institute. Congratulations, Jorge. We look forward to continuing our work with you, this time in your new role!


Fred Scaglione Passes Away, Stalwart of the New York Nonprofit World

On August 6, 2015, Fred Scaglione passed away. Fred was the longtime Editor and Founder of the New York Non-Profit Press. He also served as Assistant Commissioner of the New York City Child Welfare Administration. Fred graduated from Bishop Riley High School in Queens, NY and attended Queens College where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree. He held a Master’s Degree in Public Administration received from the New School for Social Research. Fred married Birgit Rasmussen on May 11th, 1985 in Brooklyn, NY. Birgit predeceased Fred on November 4th, 2011.

He is survived by his two sons; Thomas (Lauren) Scaglione and Adam Scaglione. Fred is also survived by his close friend and partner, Wendy Conway. “Fred was not only an informed and caring reporter of issues crucial to the nonprofit sector, he was a consummate professional,” said Coalition CEO, Phillip Saperia. “Fred Scaglione was so more much more than a reporter and publisher. He was a trusted colleague and friend. He will be profoundly missed by The Coalition family.” In 2010, The Coalition presented its Media Award to Fred Scaglione at the Annual Leadership Awards Reception, for “promoting greater public understanding, for helping to increase community awareness of behavioral health issues and for inspiring behavioral health policy reform.”


New Members

2 new organizations have joined The Coalition family since our last issue of Briefs.

The Family Center, Inc. is a multi-service agency that works to strengthen families affected by illness, crisis, or loss to create a more secure present and future for their children.

Alkermes has become an Affiliate Member. It is a leader in innovative medicines that address the unmet needs and challenges of people living with debilitating diseases. As a fully integrated global biopharmaceutical company, Alkermes applies its scientific expertise, proprietary technologies and global resources to develop products that are designed to make a meaningful difference in the way patients manage their disease.


Around the Water Cooler

Nicole Branca, formerly Deputy Director of Coalition advocacy partner the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY), has left SHNNY in order to be appointed Assistant Commissioner & Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives, Mayor's Office of Veterans' Affairs. Congratulations, Nicole! We will miss you at SHNNY but look forward to working with you in new role.

The Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA) recently created the position of Vice President for Health and Well Being. David Goldstein, MD will be the first to serve in this role at JCCA, a nonprofit that provides comprehensive child and family services. Dr. Goldstein has worked for JCCA for 28 years and has extensive experience in community-based programs, residential programs, group programs and specialized services. Dr. Goldstein was subsequently quoted in the August 11, 2015 Crain’s Health Pulse, regarding the potential impact of health homes and managed care on children in foster care.

Coalition member, the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Westchester (MHA) appointed Jennifer L. Kasoff, a new member of its Board of Directors. Ms. Kasoff is an experienced nonprofit professional who will advance the mission of the agency which offers comprehensive recovery-oriented, integrated mental health services for all ages. She previously worked as a grant writer at MHA, Safe Horizon and University Settlement and has been a consulting writer, editor and researcher for nonprofits with an emphasis on grant seeking. Ms. Kasoff earned an MPA in Nonprofit Management from NYU's Wagner School of Public Service and a B.A. from Yale University.

MHA of Westchester was also recently awarded a $6,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation in support of MHA’s food service training program. Kudos!

Coalition member, NADAP, Inc. launched a new, redesigned website. The improved website will provide visitors with ready access to essential information about NADAP and its growing portfolio of programs.

Peter Provet, President and Chief Executive of Odyssey House, had a letter to the editor published in the New York Times on August 11, 2015. Dr. Provet’s letter concerned an August 2, 2015 NY Times article on the challenges that are faced by residents of three-quarter housing.

The Coalition’s own Amanda Saake (standing on left) participated in a panel presentation: “Recovery and Culture: Our Stories through Hip Hop” at the 9th Annual conference for NYC Working Peer Specialists on July 23rd. Panel presenters shared their passions, personal stories, insights and thought-provoking ideas around hip-hop and how it relates to recovery, cultural competency, and systems advocacy. The conference was attended by approximately 400 people. Amanda presented with Chacku Mathai, Director of NAMI Star; Celia Brown, Regional Advocacy Specialist, Office of Mental Health; Luis Lopez, Implementation Specialist at Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia Psychiatric Institute; Matthew Petitte, Peer Employment And Peer Respite Specialist at the MHA of Rochester; and DJ Will Sylvester.

SUS (Services for the Underserved) has been awarded a four-year $1.6 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to integrate primary care services into an outpatient mental health clinic in Brooklyn. The grant will increase SUS’s capacity to improve access to primary care services; improve prevention, early identification and intervention; ensure holistic care; and ultimately improve the overall health of 275 unduplicated adults with serious mental illnesses. Congrats to Donna Colonna and the crew at SUS!

On August 5, 2015, Crain’s Health Pulse profiled Visiting Nurse Services of New York’s (VNSNY) effort to train more than 400 home health aides as coaches, teaching them to conduct motivational interviews and set health goals with clients, and educating them about common chronic conditions. The program was funded by a $500,000 Health Workforce Retraining grant from the state. VNSNY plans to train several hundred more coaches by next June.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
8821 Compliance Officer
8824 Cook


Family Specialist


Vocational Specialist


Director of Center for College and Careers

8835 Care Manager
8836 Licensed Practical Nurse - ACT Program
8843 CEP Clinical Supervisor
8853 Administrative Assistant (The Coalition)



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