The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Update on Behavioral Health in New York

Battle of the Budget: Avocacy Priorities in the Last Leg of SFY2019 Negotiations

Prior to Governor Cuomo’s release of the SFY2019 Executive Budget in January, advocates in the behavioral health sector were deeply concerned about the impact on NYS spending in light of federal policy and projected policies.  Our concerns, however, did not appear to drastically impact the budget, but with further analysis, The Coalition and our partners quickly determined several areas of concern. The FY2019 Recommendations to Preserve and Strengthen Community Based Behavioral Health Programs outlined our issues.

Our greatest concerns were the elimination of the clinical practice exemption (aka social work exemption); reduced funding for community clinics, including behavioral health clinics, in the Health Care Facilities Transformation program; delay for implementation of the Children’s Behavioral Health Transition; funding for combating the Opioid and Heroin epidemic; and a potential $100M cut to Health Homes that emerged in the Senate One House bill at the beginning of March.

The executive and legislative houses are now enmeshed in the three-way negotiations which are required by law to be resolved by March 31. Now is the time to bring out the forces – please see the following action you can take and be on the lookout for additional calls to actions you can take to ensure your clients’ needs are being met.

THE CLINICAL PRACTICE EXEMPTION is highly contested and has been the focus of The Coalition in conjunction with 500 like-minded colleagues. Many years have passed since the adoption of the exemption including several extensions of the legislation, and discussions are moving fast. Please see the article below, along with the New York Well-Being campaign, for additional information and what you can do.

The Coalition partnered with our colleagues in the medical and behavioral health sectors to request additional funding, comparable to the previous year, for THE HEALTH CARE FACILITIES TRANSFORMATION PROGRAM. Our allies in both the Senate and the Assembly are supporting our request. Our request for reinvestment in the Non Profit Infrastructure and Capital Investment Program (NICIP) has spurred further discussion to make transformation funds available to several groups of behavioral health services, for example RTF for kids, that are excluded from the Health Care Facilities Transformation Program.

Funding for BRING IT HOME CAMPAIGN/ MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING was included in the Executive and both one house bills for $10M. The Senate added an additional $5M to begin in the 4th quarter. Although the campaign’s supporters are pushing for the 4th quarter addition, the campaign is also trying to obtain funds from the Budget Conference Committee Table Targets.

The proposed TWO-YEAR DELAY FOR THE CHILDRENS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH TRANSITION has met with outrage by providers, legislators and other stakeholders. As of publication it appears that the Executive is open to providing grant funds to lessen the devastating impact on children’s services. The Coalition, in conjunction with the NYS Coalition for Children's Behavioral Health and other partners is asking for $15M for family peer supports, other licensed professionals, psycho-social rehabilitation and community support and treatment.

Given the escalating deaths from opioid and heroin that is gripping communities across New York State, supporting funding for prevention, treatment and recovery is an abiding concern for The Coalition. We were pleased to see a $36M increase for OASAS however we seek assurance that this new funding stream based on A SURCHARGE TO SALES OF OPIOIDS will be dedicated to addressing the epidemic and other addiction services.

The Senate One House bill continued the Senate’s assault from SFY2018 on Health Home Care Management which is essential to coordinating the behavioral and physical health needs of our clients, as well as the multiple supports that are “socially” determined – among them, housing, education, and employment. The proposed cut of $100M (which is effectively $200M with the federally match) would decimate the program and the lives of the most vulnerable. Click here to learn more about our concerns.

There is still time to make your calls to your legislators!

The Senate and Assembly need to hear your voice! Tell them to support $15M for kids.

  • Assembly Switchboard: (518) 455-4100
  • Senate Switchboard: (518) 455-2800



In the Media: Clinical Practice Exemption and the Impact of Proposed Changes in the State Budget

Over 500 mental health, addiction and human service organizations, as well as colleges and universities across the state oppose changes presented by the state Assembly and Senate to the clinical practice exemption (commonly known as the social worker licensing exemption). These changes would severely restrict access to mental health services at a time when we need all hands-on deck to help people through the opioid crisis and cope with the shock of school violence in the news.

The Coalition and our statewide advocacy partners are making headway with our message. On March 20, 2018, Crain’s Health Pulse highlighted this issue in an article entitled, “Budget proposal would hurt mental health access, critics say, with commentary from Coalition member Elliott Klein, Executive Director of the New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Center, and Jason Lippman, Executive Vice President of The Coalition.

Also on March 20th, Andrea Smyth, Executive Director of NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health Issue and Jason Lippman appeared on the Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter on WCNY radio.

On March 21st, Assembly Member John McDonald and Northern Rivers CEO Bill Gettman, appeared on Capital Tonight with Liz Benjamin to discuss the impact of ending the clinical practice exemption. 


Amanda Saake Appointed as Director of the Center for Rehabilitation & Recovery at The Coalition

On March 14, 2018, Amanda Saake of The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation & Recovery. Amanda has served as Senior Program Associate for The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery the past five years, where she provided training, consultation, and technical assistance to community behavioral health providers in New York City. Since 2013, Amanda has provided over 50 large scale multi-agency trainings at the Coalition for Behavioral Health in New York City reaching over 2,500 direct support practitioners and supervisors. In addition to these activities, Amanda frequently presents at regional and national conferences.

“It is with great pleasure that we announce that we have selected a terrific, very capable and dedicated candidate to become the Center Director, our very own Amanda Saake.  In conversations over the last few months, she has shared very thoughtful and strategic ideas for building on the success of the fantastic accomplishments of the Center and its team,” announced Coalition President & CEO, Christy Parque. “We are happy to welcome Amanda immediately into her new role as Director but also as a member of our leadership team to help guide The Coalition in the months and years to come."


More Providers to Gain Access to PSYCKES

Written by: Patricia Gallo Goldstein, LMSW
Program Manager, PSYCKES
NYS Office of Mental Health

PSYCKES (Psychiatric Services and Clinical Knowledge Enhancement System) is a web-based portfolio of tools designed to support quality improvement and clinical decision-making in the New York State Medicaid population. Providers authorized to use PSYCKES can access quality indicator reports at the state, region, county, agency, program and client level to review performance, and inform treatment planning and agency management.

While information in PSYCKES is primarily comes from NYS Medicaid claims database, a variety of other NYS data bases are also culled for information, such as NIMRS, CAIRS, MAPP, TACT and State Psychiatric Center data. The ability to log onto one system to access information from numerous databases saves providers valuable time and quickly imparts a holistic picture of the client.

In the past, PSYCKES was primarily used by hospitals, ERs, and MH Clinics but with the carve-in of behavioral health into Managed Care, and other far reaching policy changes and initiatives, providers from across the spectrum of behavioral health services have requested access to PSYCKES. As such, Adult Housing, Children’s programs, Health Homes and Care Management, PROS, PPSs and more are now able to use PSYCKES.  PSYCKES is continuously being adapted to generate the type of information needed by a variety of programs to improve care and efficiency.

This spring, the PSYCKES team will launch a collaborative learning process involving supports and technical assistance enabling more Medicaid providers to access PSYCKES. Medicaid agency providers interested in accessing PSYCKEs can contact


water cooler
Around the Water Cooler

Donna Frescatore will be New York’s new Medicaid Director after Jason Helgerson leaves the role next month. The Coalition looks forward to continuing our work with Ms. Frescatore in her new position after she assumes it on April 9th. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Jason Helgerson during his 7 years as Medicaid Director.


On March 21, 2018, Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray appointed Alexis Confer as the first Executive Director of ThriveNYC. Ms. Confer started her tenure with the de Blasio Administration in 2014 and will lead the $850 million initiative. Prior to joining the administration, Ms. Confer served as the Pennsylvania Deputy Field Director for Obama for America 2012, and the first National Field for Everytown for Gun Safety.


Housing Works was awarded $250,000 as part of Governor Cuomo’s nearly $1 million effort to build four new addiction support centers (clubhouses) in New York city. The clubhouses will offer addiction prevention and recovery services to adolescents who struggle with substance use. Congratulations to Housing Works!


On January 22, 2018, the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law appointed Holly O’ Donnell as the organization’s new CEO.  Ms. O’Donnell has an extensive career working in education, leadership, non-profit management, fundraising, and is committed to helping people with mental health challenges. The Coalition applauds Holly O’ Donnell on her new position.


Service Program for Older People (SPOP) was awarded the Gold Achievement Award for Community-Based Care. SPOP in is currently working to reduce the barriers to engagement for older adults, the fastest growing population in the United States. SPOP is one of the first agencies in the country to focus on the mental health of older adults, they include home-based care and partner with hospitals and social service agencies to try and re-engage older adults in services. We congratulate SPOP on this award and recognition.


ACMH’s The Grand, a state-led project on East 178th Street, will include 138 affordable housing units and landscaped rooftop decks that will be equipped with solar panels to supply some of the building’s energy. Forty-one of the Grand’s units will be set aside for adults diagnosed with serious mental illness and will receive supportive services funded by Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. The $65 million development is a partnership between the state, city, minority-owned firm Thorobird Companies and nonprofit Rehabilitative Case Management & Housing Inc. The Grand is part of the Governor Cuomo’s five-year, $20 billion plan to create and renovate 100,000 affordable housing apartments and 6,000 supportive housing units for vulnerable New Yorkers.


Upcoming Trainings

Center for Rehabilitation & Recovery

Introduction to Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Skills Training
**This is a two-day training; participants must be able to commit to attending both sessions.
Date: April 17, 2018 and April 18, 2018
Time: 9:30am - 4:30 pm
Location: 123 William Street, Suite 1901
More info »
Register now »


Upcoming Member-Only Events

Substance Use Committee Meeting
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Location: 123 William Street, Suite 1901
Contact: Tammy Thomas |

Government Relations Committee Meeting
Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018
Time: 2:30pm – 3:30pm
Location: 123 William Street, Suite 1901
Contact: Douglas Berman | 

Membership Meeting

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm 
Location: 123 William Street, Suite 1901
Contact: Chris Bianchi |


Other Noteworthy Events

New Strategies and Partnerships to Support the Most Challenged New Yorkers: The Way Forward
April 19 & 20, 2018
Location: Hilton Albany | 40 Lodge Street, Albany, New York
More info »
Register now »

New York Public Psychiatry Presents:
Community Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System: What Needs to Change?
April 27, 2018
Time: 8:30am – 12:30pm
Location: Mount Sinai West | 1000 Tenth Ave, Conference Room B, 2nd Floor
Register now »
For more information please click here

Social Security Administration Presents:
Financial Independence: Directing the Management of One’s Social Security Benefits
Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Location: 1100 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 200 East, Washington, DC 20005
Register now »


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