If you are unable to read this edition, please view it on our web site.

The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Behavioral Health in New York
          November 3, 2015



Governor Cuomo Announces $50 Million Available for Nonprofit Infrastructure Improvements

We have some very positive news from Albany. The Governor has made $50 million in capital funds available for nonprofit infrastructure purposes. This is a real victory for the entire human services sector that would not have happened without strong engagement from The Coalition and all of our advocacy partners.

The application is available at New York State's Grants Gateway website  and the applications will be due on December 23, 2015.

This great victory could potentially help Coalition members defer some costs from IT and other infrastructure upgrades that have become so necessary for our sector’s sustainability.


SAMHSA Awards New York State over $982,000 Planning Grant for the Creation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics

New York State will receive nearly $1 million to plan for the creation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). CCBHCs will be the behavioral health equivalent of Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Authorized under Section 223 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, the planning grants are part of a comprehensive effort to integrate behavioral health with physical health care, utilize evidence-based practices on a more consistent basis, and improve access to high quality care. The planning grants will be used to support states to certify community behavioral health clinics, solicit input from stakeholders, establish prospective payment systems for demonstration reimbursable services, and prepare an application to participate in the demonstration program.

The criteria used to certify community behavioral health clinics emphasize high quality and evidence based practices. Populations to be served are adults with serious mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, and those with long term and serious substance use disorders, as well as others with mental illness and substance use disorders.

The Coalition had strongly advocated with the State to apply for the planning grant. We are very pleased that New York was successful in obtaining these funds and we look forward to the establishment of CCCHCs in our state. This model will provide comprehensive care to our consumers/clients and new opportunities for behavioral health providers to consider. It is truly a win-win for us all.


Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Barring Judges from Denying Medication-Supported Treatment

Governor Cuomo signed legislation (S.4239-B/A.6255-B) that will bar New York Drug Court judges from ordering defendants in recovery to stop taking doctor-prescribed medications, such as Suboxone, as part of their treatment.

Many Drug Courts in New York State have mandated that patients taper off life-saving, prescribed medications before they can be considered for alternative sentencing in treatment court. There have been documented cases of individuals that have tapered off medication, so that they did not have to face incarceration, subsequently returned to active opiate use, overdosed and died. This legislation will save lives and help families affected by addiction throughout New York.

The Coalition and advocacy partner, The Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates (COMPA) strongly supported this legislation and actively pushed for its passage.

We would like to thank the bill sponsors, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D) and Senator Terrence Murphy, (R), as well as Assembly members Richard Gottfried (D), and John McDonald and Senators George Amedore Jr. (R), Robert Ortt (R), Phil Boyle (R ), Tony Avella (D), Kemp Hannon (R), Brad Holyman (D), Timothy Kennedy (D), Kathleen Marchione (R), Thomas O'Mara (R), Kevin Parker(D), Gustavo Rivera (D), Sue Serino (R), who co-sponsored it for the vote.


New York Goes to Washington for Hill Day with the National Council for Behavioral Health

More than 600 people from 39 states join with National Council on its 2015 Hill Day held on October 5-6, 2015.  There were over 300 hundred visits with Congress Members and Senators.

The Coalition’s Jamin Sewell, as State Captain, led 30 registrants from all over the New York State, more than half Coalition members. We scheduled and attended 17 meetings, including meetings with both our Senators and most of the NYC congressional delegation.

The National Council had a broad agenda, as you can see below:

We also carried our own “New York-centric” agenda, which put some of the National Council’s asks into a New York context.

Long Island-based Congress Member Kathleen Rice signed on as a co-sponsor of Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Her staff told us that it was our meeting with her office that spurred the Congresswoman to become a co-sponsor. The Coalition joined the National Council’s letter in support of CARA which was delivered to the ranking members of the Judiciary Committees in the House and Senate.

Hill Day is an extremely rewarding opportunity to meet other activists from across the county as well as to make face-to-face contact with your federal elected officials. We strongly encourage Coalition members to participate in the next Hill Day on June 6-7, 2016.


President Obama Announces New Public and Private Sector Effort to Address Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin

On October 21, 2015, President Obama announced federal, state, local and private sector efforts aimed at addressing the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic. These include commitments by more than 40 provider groups – representing doctors, dentists, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and educators -- that more than 540,000 health care providers will complete opioid prescriber training in the next two years. In addition, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, Google, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and other companies will donate millions of dollars in media space for Public Service Announcements about the risks of prescription drug misuse produced by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Today, the President issued a Memorandum to Federal Departments and Agencies directing two important steps to combat the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic:

  • Prescriber training to help ensure that health care professionals who prescribe opioids are properly trained in opioid prescribing. To establish the Federal Government as a model, the Presidential Memorandum requires Federal Departments and Agencies to provide training on the prescribing of these medications to Federal health care professionals who prescribe controlled substances as part of their Federal responsibilities.
  • Improving access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use--the Presidential Memorandum directs Federal Departments and Agencies that directly provide, contract to provide, reimburse for, or otherwise facilitate access to health benefits, to conduct a review to identify barriers to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders and develop action plans to address these barriers.

More information about the President’s sweeping plan can be found here.


The Coalition and Advocacy Partners Sponsor NY/NY IV Housing Forum with over 500 Attendees

On October 23, 2015, The Coalition joined with its advocacy partners to call for the creation of 35,000 new units of supportive housing statewide over the next 10 years. The event was hosted by the Society for Ethical Culture and brought together a diverse crowd include faith leaders across the spectrum, homeless and formerly homeless people and advocates for the homeless and people with behavioral health issues.

A number of legislators came to show their support, including State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Members Dick Gottfried, Andrew Hevesi, Joe Lentol and Keith Wright as well as Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. The most poignant moments of the evening were when several formerly homeless people now living in supportive housing, spoke about how living in supportive housing had changed their lives by allowing them stability so that they could find employment, start new relationships and  participate in their communities.

The event organizers encouraged the crowd to use social media, particular Twitter, to contact the Governor’s Office. According to the app Potus2016, the tweets with NY/NY 4 trended within the top ten of all Democratic political topics being tweeted twice that evening.

Since the forum, one of our advocacy partners, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, has successfully placed letters to the editor in newspapers form Buffalo to Albany. Support for the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing is gain notoriety and traction, as indicated by the increasing media attention. There is real momentum building and we will become increasingly active leading up to and during the next State Legislative Session.

We look forward working with members and allies to make the goals of the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing come to pass.


The Coalition Testifies at NYS Assembly Hearing on Transition to Medicaid Managed Care

On October 21, 2015, Jamin Sewell, The Coalition’s Counsel & Managing Director of Policy and Advocacy, testified at a hearing before the NYS Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities. The hearing title was, “Transition of Behavioral Health Supports and Services into Managed Care.

The purpose of the hearing, according to the committee’s chair, Assembly Member Aileen Gunther, was “to assess New York State’s progress with transitioning individuals receiving mental health supports and services from programs certified and licensed by the Office of Mental Health into managed care.”

A copy of The Coalition’s testimony is found here.

Also testifying were: DOH’s Valencia Lloyd, OMH’s Gary Weiskopf, OASAS’s Robert Kent, Esq., other coalitions and a representative from the NYS Health Plan.


Mayor de Blasio Signs Measures to Address K2 Crisis

The Mayor signed 3 bills to combat the spread of “K2” synthetic cannabinoids in New York City through increased enforcement and stronger penalties. These bills target the purveyors of K2 rather than the users. The Coalition endorses this approach and commends the Council, its Speaker and the Mayor for passing this legislation. We hope that this effort combined with the hard word of getting people into treatment will begin to address this public health crisis.

Here are summaries of the bills that contain links to the text of the legislation:

  • Introduction 917-A, sponsored by Council Member Ruben Wills, will prohibit the manufacture and sale of synthetic cannabinoids (sometimes referred to as synthetic marijuana, K2, or other brand names) and synthetic phenethylamine (sometimes sold as “bath salts”) or imitations of these substances. In addition to criminal and civil penalties, the bill will authorize the sealing of businesses that violate the provisions of this bill twice in a three-year period.
  • Introduction 897, sponsored by Council Member Garodnick, will add violations of Introduction 917-A to the factors that allow the declaration of a public nuisance under the City’s Nuisance Abatement Law. The bill will allow a court, under the Nuisance Abatement Law, to issue restraining and closing orders against premises that repeatedly violate the proposed synthetic drug prohibition.
  • Introduction 885-A, sponsored by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, will mandate the suspension of a cigarette dealer license for any licensed cigarette dealer who violates the provisions of the proposed synthetic drug prohibition outlined in Introduction 917-A. The bill will create a mandatory revocation for a second violation of such proposed prohibition. It will also allow the Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner to consider such violations as they consider whether to grant future cigarette dealer licenses to such violator.


FDA Announces New Monitoring and Dispensing Protocols for Clozapine

The FDA has announced that it will make changes to the requirements for monitoring, prescribing, dispensing, and receiving the medicine clozapine (a medication prescribed for people with “treatment-resistant” schizophrenia). These changes address continuing safety concerns and current knowledge about a serious blood condition called severe neutropenia.

Clozapine is associated with a potential serious decline in white blood cell (WBC) counts that could put an individual at considerable risk for infection. Historically, WBC counts and agranulocytosis (ANC) have been monitored in patients taking clozapine for a condition called neutropenia. Research indicates that normative ANC levels vary among racial and ethnic groups, although prescribing and monitoring guidelines are normed to ANC ranges of white/Caucasian populations. This has had a disparate impact in access to clozapine, particularly for African Americans. It has also led to the FDA to create the new monitoring protocol.

The FDA also approved a new shared "risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS)" that is expected to reduce the burden and possible confusion related to having separate registries for individual clozapine medicines.

Starting on October 12, 2015, prescribers and pharmacies must be certified in the Clozapine REMS Program. To be certified, prescribers and pharmacies will (1) review prescribing information and the Clozapine and the Risk of Neutropenia: A Guide for Healthcare Providers, (2) successfully pass the Knowledge Assessment for Healthcare Providers, and (3) complete and submit a one-time Clozapine REMS Prescriber Enrollment Form. SAMHSA encourages providers to get certified through the Clozapine REMS Program online or to fax completed forms to 844-404-8876.


New Members

A hearty welcome to a new member of The Coalition family:

Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) serves people in trouble: youth at risk; families in crisis; people struggling to address drug and alcohol problems and HIV and AIDS; and people who have been involved in the criminal justice system who are seeking community reintegration and productive, law-abiding lives.  CCA endeavors to address these issues by emphasizing personal empowerment, self-respect and concern for one's community.


Around the Water Cooler

The Coalition Welcomes a new Director of Policy for Children and Families: Pam Tindall–O’Brien, JD

The Coalition is very pleased to announce that Pam Tindall-O’Brien will become our Director of Policy for Children and Families. Pam takes over from Heather Mermel who recently left The Coalition to become Government and Community Liaison Manager for Beacon Health options.

Many of you already know Pam from her work at SOMH as an Assistant Attorney. In that role she worked on many children’s issues including the Children’s Mental Health Waiver. Her expertise in that arena will serve us well as we struggle with huge changes to the Waiver programs and move into Children’s Health Homes and managed care. She also served as an  Administrative Law Judge for the New York Department of Security Services, presiding over child abuse expungement hearings, foster care removal hearings, and other matters related to the welfare and care of children. She is a fierce advocate for children’s rights. 

Most recently she served as the Chief Legal Officer for our member, ICL, and currently is a consultant to CBC and ICL’s HealthCare Choices Community Health Center. 

We are thrilled to have Pam join our Coalition family.


Jane Daniello, CPA Becomes  The Coalition’s New Director of Finance

We are also very pleased to announce that Jane Daniello has joined The Coalition as Director of Finance.  Jane previously worked at HIAS, Inc. for 15 years as Senior Director of Finance and Accounting.  HIAS, Inc. is a global Jewish organization working in 14 countries to ensure that refugees and displaced persons are protected.  Jane led and supervised HIAS’ Global Finance and Accounting department.  She has a B.A. from Queens College and is a Certified Public Accountant.

We welcome Jane to The Coalition family!


ANDRUS President and CEO Bryan R. Murphy announced the appointment of Audrey Erazo-Trivino as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Ms. Trivino will be overseeing the day-to-day operations of ANDRUS, building cross-program supports and idea exchanges and enhancing staff stewardship. Ms. Trivino has over 20 years in the child welfare, education and mental health fields. Prior to joining ANDRUS, she worked for 16 years at Cardinal McCloskey Community Services, a multi-service nonprofit agency, where she served as the Vice President for Health and Clinical Services. Welcome to The Coalition community!  

ANDRUS was also highlighted in the Wall Street Journal for its use of alpacas in its Animal-Assisted Therapy Program. Great pictures!


MHA of Westchester is hosting a community conversation on “Raising Our Youth With The Best of Intentions: The Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Pressures for Success, Is There Really an Alternative?” The event is on November 4th from 7 PM to 9 PM at the Rosenthal JCC of Northern Westchester, 600 Bear Ridge Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570. Here’s a link for registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/raising-our-youth-with-the-best-of-intentions-tickets-18781124850.


The New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects featured the new Services for the UnderServed (SUS) Third Avenue Residence in the Fall 2015 issue of the Oculus magazine.


Service Program for Older People/SPOP has announced a strategic partnership with Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors to provide behavioral health treatment to homebound seniors who are receiving in-home medical care from Mount Sinai Hospital.  The project will serve adults age 55 and older throughout Manhattan. The Altman Foundation and The New York Community Trust have awarded major grants to SPOP to launch the project.

Joe Hallmark


Joe Hallmark, Associate Director of Goddard Riverside Community Center was quoted in DNAinfo article about the apparent increase in homelessness on the upper west side.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
9036 Court Adovcate
9044 Family Specialist LMSW - Manhattan ACT Team


Psychiatrist (PROS) - Part-time


Sr. Vice President, Developmental External Relations


Admin. Assistant - DHS Standalone Transitional Residence

9057 Maintenance Worker
9064 Director of Facilities
9097 Case Manager, In Homes Now-Abstinence Program
9099 Special Education Teacher, Pre-school



The Coalition Home | Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery | Coalition Briefs | Advocate for Mental Health | Policy Positions
Professional Learning Center | Member Agencies | Jobs | Calendar

About Us | Contact Us | Donate

If you would like to be removed from our mailing list, or if you would prefer to receive Briefs via fax,
please reply to this e-mail. Comments and suggestions may be directed to jsewell@coalitionny.org

123 William St., 19th Fl., New York, NY 10038
Tel: (212) 742-1600     Fax: (212) 742-2080