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February 16, 2017

Advancing Public Policies for People with Mental Illness, Chemical Dependency or Developmental Disabilities   

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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

DSRIP Public Comment and PAOP Meeting Materials

On January 31 st , the MRT Department hosted a public comment day on the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program. A summary of all testimony from that day, as well as written public comment that was submitted to the Department, has been posted here.

From February 1st-February 3rd, the MRT Department convened the DSRIP Project Approval and Oversight Panel (PAOP) to review the DSRIP mid-point assessment reports and recommendations. During this time, all 25 Performing Provider Systems (PPS) presented to the PAOP their progress to date on meeting the goals of the DSRIP Program. We have updated our website to reflect all 25 PPS presentations, a summary of the meeting proceedings, and PPS recommendations as voted on by the PAOP. All of these materials can be foundhere.

The archived webcast of all four days can be found here.  Any questions can be sent to
Music Programs Play a Part in Treatment

One of the goals of addiction treatment is to teach patients to manage trauma and process their emotions in positive ways. Helping patients enhance personal expression by creating their own music is one tool that treatment centers are increasingly using to make better connections.

Wesley Geer, founder and CEO of the not-for-profit Rock to Recovery, has been a professional musician for more than 20 years as the former guitarist for the rock band Korn. He brings the program to treatment centers, where clinicians and musicians offer patients, with or without music experience, the opportunity to create songs.

"What we've seen with our program is that music plays a huge part in opening up clients quickly, getting them engaged," Geer says. "It provides an immediate offset and release for all the emotions they are dealing with."

He says the energy of writing music surpasses the other energies created by thought like anxiety, depression and cravings, by helping alter brain chemistry naturally.

"We know this to be scientific fact," he says.  Read more here.
Why Opioid Overdose Deaths Seem to Happen in Spurts

Drug deaths  in America sometimes seem to come in groups; just look at Ohio.   At least 14 people  died of opioid overdoses  in Cuyahoga County over the weekend, CNN affiliate WEWS reported.

Already this year, more than 60% of the autopsies conducted at the Montgomery County Coroner's office in Ohio involved drug overdose deaths -- and the office is running out of room for the bodies.

Many of these overdoses were related to the abuse of opioids, a class of drugs that includes powerful prescription painkillers and heroin.

Why do so many opioid overdose deaths across the country appear to occur at once? Experts warn that the answer is more complicated than it may seem.  Read more here.



Children & Families Committee
February 21:  11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

RPC Leads & Coordinators Call
February 23:  8 - 9 am,  GTM

MARCH 2017

Officers, Chairs & Regional Reps Call
March 1:  8 - 9 am, GTM

RPC Leads & Coordinators Call
March 9:  8 - 9 am,  GTM

Directors & Executive Committee Combined Meeting
March 15:  9:30 am - 12:30 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee
March 21:  11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

RPC Leads & Coordinators Call
March 23:  8 - 9 am,  GTM

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
OMH Releases 2016 Year End Report on Transformation Plan
The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) has prepared the 2016 annual report to provide timely information on the progress of the agency's Transformation Plan investments in community mental health services. This report describes the progress and effectiveness of investments in community mental health services in reducing the need for inpatient services and hospital lengths of stay, and the improvement of service effectiveness for children, adolescents and adults.  

Click here for the report.
Behavioral Health Clinics Struggle With Low Reimbursement Rates From Commercial Plans

Medicaid has a reputation for paying lower rates and having narrower networks than other payers. But some of New York's behavioral health nonprofits say it's the commercial plans they've had to start turning away.
Many behavioral health organizations report commercial reimbursement rates that are less than half the rates paid by Medicaid, according to the New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.   The issue has intensified since 2013, when the state phased out supplementary payments covering providers' deficits for outpatient behavioral health services, said Lauri Cole, executive director of the Council, which represents 100 providers across the state.  
The funding was discontinued because states are no longer permitted to use Medicaid funds to subsidize other payers, according to the state Office of Mental Health.

Low reimbursement rates have led the Staten Island Mental Health Society to terminate most of its commercial contracts over the past few years, according to Fern Zagor, the organization's president and chief executive.  
Commercial plans typically paid the children's behavioral health center about $60 for a regular therapy session-less than half the $125 paid by Medicaid, and a fraction of the $200 each session actually costs, Zagor said.

Cole has been trying to convince the state that low commercial rates not only hurt community-based behavioral health providers, but also lead to inadequate provider networks in commercial plans. However, evidence of this remains anecdotal.

The Office of Mental Health said the state is exploring options to strengthen network adequacy standards and mental health parity for commercial insurers.   However, the Department of Financial Services, which regulates commercial insurers, would not comment on the network adequacy issue and currently has no authority to set rates.

For the Staten Island Mental Health Society, getting bigger may be the answer. The provider is merging with nearby Richmond University Medical Center. Zagor said she hopes the merger will allow her organization to negotiate better rates with commercial plans. 

--Crain's Health Pulse
Medication Assisted Treatment: Ready, Set, Implement 

In July, President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) that - among other things -  mandates our health care system to use state-of-the-science medications to treat addiction, in combination with other proven treatments.

Last year, I attended the official roll-out of the  Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health. The report joined the rally cry for greater use of medications as a part of addiction treatment.

In December, another call came. Congress and President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, again demanding more funding and greater use of medication assisted treatment (MAT).

Given the momentum and clear evidence of MAT's effectiveness, why are providers reluctant to use these proven medications?
I asked an integrated health care provider recently and he reiterated what I hear all the time: "We would like to start using MAT, but we don't know where to start. I don't know what I don't know."

For most providers, implementing MAT is a significant change in organizational philosophy. And it feels daunting ... without proper guidance. Planning for MAT implementation requires the same thoughtful planning as implementation of any other service or evidence-based practice.  Read more here.
The Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors advances public policies and awareness for people with mental illness, chemical dependency and developmental disabilities.  We are a statewide membership organization that consists of the Commissioner/ Director of each of the state's 57 county mental hygiene departments and the mental hygiene department of the City of New York.