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November 2, 2016

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

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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

OMH Commissioner Sullivan to Present Draft OMH Statewide 5.07 Plan via Nov. 16 WebEx

On November 16, 2016, OMH will conduct a Statewide Virtual Town Hall with Commissioner Ann Marie Sullivan, M.D. presenting on the Commissioner's Transformation Agenda for a Changing Healthcare Environment . It will be held online via WebEx in order to maximize access for public participation, with OMH sites in Albany, New York City, and Rochester available for attendees who are unable to access the event online.

This event will provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the OMH vision for the future, including the Commissioner's policy and planning priorities. Comments and questions can be presented online and via phone conferencing for those attending at one of the OMH sites. All comments will be reviewed and considered in the development of the OMH Statewide Comprehensive Plan, pursuant to Section 5.07 of NYS mental hygiene law.

Registration is now available by clicking here.

If you require any special accommodations to participate in the event or have questions about the format, please contact Janise Carmichael at (518) 486-3293.
CMS:  Health Insurance Enforcement and Consumer Protections Cycle I Grant Awards

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded approximately $25.5 million to 22 states and the District of Columbia to use for enforcement and oversight of issuer compliance with select Affordable Care Act (ACA) key consumer protections. These awards allow states to use the funding for activities related to planning and implementing selected Federal market reforms and consumer protections including: essential health benefits, preventive services, parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits, appeals processes, and bringing down the cost of health care coverage (also known as medical loss ratio (MLR) provision).

These additional grants will help support State Departments of Insurance efforts to make sure their laws, regulations, and procedures are in line with Federal requirements and that states are able to effectively oversee and enforce issuer compliance with consumer protections guaranteed by the ACA.  State Departments of Insurance are vital to the oversight of health insurance issuers and are responsible for ensuring premiums are reasonable and justified, companies are solvent, and consumers are protected.  

The New York State Department of Financial Services received an award of $1,244,446.34 to be used toward a review of its processes for both the review of forms and market conduct examinations. The Department of Financial Services will create or update internal manuals, internal and external checklists and other materials used to evaluate compliance and will update relevant documents to reflect best practices and conduct a training program aimed at improving the staff of examiners' expertise in mental health and substance use disorder benefit parity. Training will be used to also improve the overall expertise of examiners conducting market conduct examinations, specifically bolstering the ability of these examiners to identify enterprise-wide issues with parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits.  
New Funding Opportunity to Support Treatment and Recovery Efforts

The Institute for the Advancement of Behavioral Health recently launched the Institute for the Advancement of Behavioral Health Fund. Through a new grant program, the fund will be used to contribute financial support to not-for-profit organizations who share the institute's best-practice goals and have designed projects or programs that create effective pathways to treatment and recovery for the communities they serve. The fund is intended to support ongoing programming as well as new projects designed to enhance and improve the delivery of care.

The grants will range in amount and will be awarded through a simple proposal process outlined here. In addition to ongoing programming, eligible projects might encompass strategies such as expanding the behavioral health workforce, creating quality measures, coordinating care across specialties, advancing ethics or supporting the care of vulnerable populations, just to name a few.

The Institute will be looking for not-for-profit organizations that aim to improve care in a strategic, meaningful way within the rapidly changing healthcare landscape. Broader implementation of grant-earning projects and initiatives might have the potential to influence change industrywide.

Organizations interested in applying for a grant should visit the  site to submit a brief proposal and supporting documentation.
Applicants will receive an initial response within 60 days of submission. Applicants who are selected for funding will be contacted individually. 
SAMHSA's GAINS Center Seeks Experienced Trainers to Participate in Trauma-Informed Responses Train-the-Trainer Event

This year, the GAINS Center is soliciting applications from experienced trainers who are interested in developing their capacity to provide trauma-informed training in their local agencies/communities via the GAINS Center's How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses training program. Selected applicants will to learn to facilitate the training via a centralized Train-The-Trainer event and subsequently deliver the training program in their local communities across the country. Applications accepted through November 17, 2016. Click here for more information and to apply.


A comprehensive pre-recorded web-based training series beginning November 9th which is dedicated to reviewing the NYS behavioral health service landscape. The webinars will be followed by a live office hour webinar on 12/9 from 12-1 pm.

November 15, 12 - 1 pm

November 17, 12 - 1 pm




RPC Advisory Committee 
November 3:  8 am
GTM Only

Office Closed - Veterans Day
November 11

RPC Advisory Committee 
November 17:  8 am
GTM Only

Office Closed - Thanksgiving
November 24, 25


RPC Advisory Committee 
December 1:  8 am
GTM Only

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee
December 1:  11 am - 2 pm
In-Person Meeting

Officers & Chairs - Call In
December 7:  8 am

RPC Advisory Committee 
December 8:  8 am
GTM Only

Children & Families Committee
December 13:  11:30 am - 1 pm
GTM Only

RPC Advisory Committee 
December 15:  8 am
GTM Only  

Directors/Executive Committee
December 20:  9:30 - 11:30 am
GTM Only

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
Federal Parity Task Force Announces Actions to Ensure Insurance Coverage for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

For too long, Americans paid for health insurance that did not recognize that treatment for mental health and substance use disorders is as essential as other medical treatment. Access to effective mental health and substance use disorder services can mean the difference between graduating from school and falling behind; between keeping a good job and becoming involved with the criminal justice system; between living a full life in recovery and dying by overdose or suicide.
In March of this year, President Obama established the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force and charged Federal Departments and Agencies to work together to ensure that Americans are benefiting from the mental health and substance use disorder parity protections under the law.
Last week in its final report, the Task Force announced a series of actions and recommendations to help ensure better implementation of parity; to help consumers, providers, and plans understand how parity works; and to ensure appropriate oversight and enforcement of parity protections. 
To access the full report and learn more about the Administration's initiatives, please visit:
Governor Cuomo Announces Grand Opening of $24.8 Million Affordable Housing Development in Ronkonkoma

Governor Andrew Cuomo last week announced the grand opening of the $24.8 million Liberty Landing apartments in Ronkonkoma, Suffolk County. The 59-unit supportive housing project, operated by Concern for Independent Living, offers residential based support services to formerly homeless veterans, in addition to affordable housing for low income Long Island families.

The grand opening of Liberty Landing builds on the  $21.6 million  the Governor recently announced to create 265 supportive homes for homeless Veterans and their families. This is part of a $10 billion commitment to build affordable housing and combat homelessness. 

Located at 55 Portion Road, between the central business district and Lake Ronkonkoma, Liberty Landing will provide 30 formerly homeless veterans with apartments and offer 28 affordable apartments to low income Long Island families who meet specific income thresholds, ranging from 30 percent to 51 percent of area median income. The development also includes a community building which features an exercise room, a computer room and a room for community gatherings. 

Liberty Landing offers 40 one-bedroom apartments, 15 two-bedroom apartments, and 3 three-bedroom apartments, as well as one unit for the superintendent of the development. On-site programming will be offered by Concern for Independent Living to help residents live healthy and productive lives. Residents will find assistance with the behavioral health, medical, vocational, and social services they need to live successful lives in the community. Read more here.
Behavioral Health VBP Clinical Advisory Group issiues Final Report

The Behavioral Health VBP Clinical Advisory Group (CAG) has produced the Behavioral Health Chronic Conditions Recommendation Report.  

This CAG report has been posted for public comment on the DSRIP Website here .   The public comment period will commence October 28, 2016 and will end on November 28, 2016. 
The CAG Recommendation Report provides definition and associated quality measures for each VBP arrangement.  The CAG Recommendation Reports inform providers and payers of the details of each arrangement, further supporting their transition to VBP.  Each report represents the final output from each respective CAG for that specific arrangement.   
Recommendations from the CAG will be further explored throughout the early phases of VBP implementation.  Based on lessons learned through VBP implementation, each CAG may be reconvened to continue discussions of VBP arrangement definition and quality measures.
Please submit any written comments by November 28th to
6 Steps to Adopting Value-Based Reimbursement Models

Breaking away from a fee-for-service (FFS) payment model is one of the greatest challenges that providers currently face. The new  value-based reimbursement (VBR) model  requires sophisticated, data-driven decision making and widespread changes that require collaboration across provider organizations.

Many would liken the situation to driving a car while trying to change the tires, and the engine and brakes, all at once. In fact,  a recent VBR study conducted by McKesson found that 60-78% of providers are not meeting their alternative payment and VBR goals, 31% are still operating exclusively under FFS models and only 48% of providers feel ready for VBR. For the foreseeable future, providers should strike a balance between operating within FFS and VBR.

While the transition is not an easy one, these six steps can be tailored to accommodate the transition and help maximize reimbursement and facilitate success.  Read more here.
NYC Jails Fail to Identify Prisoners With Cognitive Problems 

The New York City Department of Correction and the city's Correctional Health Services have almost no way of determining if an inmate on Rikers Island has an intellectual or developmental disability - something like a very low IQ or a disorder on the autism spectrum. Right now, there is no specific screening for these cognitive impairments during intake for people arriving at Rikers, no targeted services or care for these disabilities on the island, and no specialized units for them.

Because of the lack of screening, most people who come to Rikers with intellectual or development disabilities end up going unidentified by the Department of Correction and Correctional Health Services, the city partnership that provides health and mental health services on the island, say advocates and medical staff familiar with the Department's process. As a result, these inmates typically end up housed among the general population of the jails, where they're disproportionately susceptible to violence and abuse from other inmates and staff.

While inmates with psychiatric illnesses at Rikers have received considerable attention from the city's administration in recent years and substantial resources have been developed for them, inmates with intellectual or developmental disabilities - a similarly large and vulnerable group - have gotten little of either. Often they're simply treated as part of the mentally ill population; when inmates with cognitive disabilities aren't housed in general population, they're typically placed in Mental Observation Units designed for inmates with mental illnesses, units that are regarded as inadequate and inappropriate for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  Read more here.
5 Best Practices for Patient Transportation Services

Transportation may not be at the top of the list when behavioral healthcare facilities open their doors, but those established in the industry say patient transportation is a differentiator that can ultimately help patient access.

"It's something that you don't usually think about when you are thinking about treatment, but it's a real cost factor," says Jeremy Broderick, founder and chief executive officer at Windward Way Recovery in California.
According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services  survey in 2011, 39% of substance abuse facilities reported offering transportation assistance to treatment. It was most common for residential treatment centers.  According to the results, 62% of residential treatment facilities surveyed reported providing transportation assistance, while that percentage dropped to 46% for hospital inpatient treatment facilities and 35% for outpatient treatment facilities.   Read more here .
Children Hospitalized for Opioid Poisoning More than Doubles in 16 Years, Study Finds

As the opioid epidemic has continued to expand across the U.S., multitudes of children have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisonings, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Hospitalizations for prescription opioid-related poisonings increased a dramatic 165 percent, for children between the ages of 1 to 19, between 1997 and 2012, the researchers found.

The largest percentage increase in prescription opioid poisonings was among the youngest age group - 1- to 4-year-olds -- at 205 percent. The vast majority of these poisonings are unsupervised ingestions, where children get into a drug supply that belongs to a family member.  

Prescription opioid poisoning among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 increased 176 percent, according to the study.

Gaither said that she was "surprised to see the greatest increase was in young children."
Unlike many young children who take the drugs accidentally, in adolescents over the age of 10 the prescription poisonings were mainly attributed to a suicide attempt or self-inflicted injury. In teens, between the ages of 15 to 19, there was a 140 percent increase in suicidal or self-inflicted ingestion of prescription opioids.   Read more here .
There's a Shortage of Child Psychiatrists, and Kids Are Hurting

Pediatrician Karen Rhea said she found it "gut-wrenching" to see young people in psychiatric crisis: a teen who overdosed, the one with mental illness who landed in jail, the high school senior who tried to kill herself by crashing her car. With a population of about 20,000 then,  Franklin, Tenn., where she practiced, had no child and adolescent psychiatrists, so Rhea spent long hours searching for inpatient care, phoning judges, looking for mental-health specialists in Nashville 20 miles away.

Sometimes her efforts made a difference. The suicide survivor thrived in therapy. She wrote a note to Rhea, thanking her for saving her life.

Eventually, Rhea became convinced she could better serve patients as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and returned to medical school. Now she is chief medical officer of Centerstone, one of the largest community mental health providers in Tennessee.

But some things have not changed.
Three decades after she left pediatrics, not a single state has what  professional groups deem a sufficient number of child psychiatrists.  

In her home town of Holladay, Tenn., a rural community, Rhea says the nearest child and adolescent psychiatrist would be about 50 miles away.   And limited access to mental health care has far-reaching consequences.
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.