November 6, 2020
CLICK HERE for Links to State Guidance and Updates on COVID-19
Oneida County Appoints Ashlee Thompson as New Mental Health Commissioner

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. has named a new mental health commissioner.

Ashlee Thompson, Rome Memorial Hospital's former director of Outpatient Behavioral Health Services, will fill the position. She started Monday, Oct. 26.

Thompson takes over for Robin O'Brien, who retired in June. Deputy Commissioner of Family and Community Services Michael Romano had been temporarily overseeing the Mental Health Department in the interim. Read more here.
NYS OASAS Announces Launch of New Campaign to Raise Awareness of Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Use During Pandemic

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) today announced the launch of a new Alcohol Awareness campaign to caution people of the warning signs of excessive alcohol use, and where to go to get help. In addition to warning signs, the campaign will also help offer alternatives to using alcohol for stress management, at a time when the danger of excessive alcohol use is increased as a result of the pandemic.

“Now more than ever, it is important to raise awareness about the harmful effects of alcohol and promote healthy ways to deal with anxiety and stress,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Co-Chair of the NYS Heroin and Opioid Task Force. Read more here.
Columbia County is Hiring: Director of Community Services

Columbia County is searching for a highly skilled community and mental health professional responsible for the oversight of the Columbia County Department of Human Services, its services and the provision of a comprehensive mental hygiene system of services. In addition, the Director will serve on the Community Services Board and its’ three (3) subcommittees: Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. The Director will work under the general supervision of the Community Services Board and the County Board of Supervisors’ Health and Medical Committee.

Click here for the full job description

November 9, 2 - 3 pm, National Association of Counties

November 10, 11 am - 12 pm, OMH

November 16, 2 - 3 pm, National Academy for State Health Policy

November 17, 10 - 11 am, OMH

November 17, 6 - 7 pm, NYSPI, Columbia University

November 18, 12 - 1 pm, Coordinated Care Services, Inc.

November 18, 1 - 2 pm, OMH

November 19, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc.


CLMHD Office Closed - Veterans Day
November 11

Addiction Services & Recovery Committee Meeting
November 12: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
November 17: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

CLMHD & State Agency Day
November 18, GTM
  •  OASAS: 9 - 11 am
  •  OMH: 12 - 2 pm
  • OPWDD: Rescheduled for December 7 @ 2 pm

Mental Health Committee - 730 Work Group
November 24: 11 am - 12 pm, GTM

Mental Hygiene Planning Committee
November 24: 1 - 3 pm, GTM

CLMHD Office Closed - Thanksgiving
November 26 - 27

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and GoToMeeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
NYS Regional Planning Consortium (RPC) Releases Third Quarter Update

The Regional Planning Consortium (RPC) is proud to share its third "Quarterly Update Report," which highlights activities conducted by the rest-of-state RPC by region during July 1 - September 30, 2020. We would like to thank our more than 800 statewide stakeholders and various State Office partners for their continued participation in and commitment to the RPC.
The RPC is a network of 11 regional boards, community stakeholders, and Managed Care Organizations that work closely with State partners to guide behavioral health policy in the regions to problem-solve and develop lasting solutions to service delivery challenges. Visit for more information.
Federal Court Orders UnitedHealth To Fix 67,000 Behavioral Health Denials

The behavioral health division of UnitedHealth Group can no longer use its own “overly restrictive guidelines” to deny mental health and substance use treatment, a federal judge ordered Tuesday. The company must replace them with independent rules that will lead the nation’s largest insurer to pay for more treatment and pave the way for more challenges to health insurers’ ability to set their own guidelines for what treatment is medically necessary.

United Behavioral Health must now reprocess 67,000 claims it denied for 50,000 people from 2011 to 2017, U.S. district court Judge Joseph Spero wrote, and for the next decade must decide claims using independent guidelines developed by professional mental health associations instead of its internal guidelines, which it had used “to protect its bottom line.

The insurer has not decided whether it will appeal, said UnitedHealth Group spokesman Eric Hausman in an email, but “we are reviewing the order and considering our options.” United Behavioral Health would have to reprocess claims during the appeals process unless the judge approves a potential request to stay the order. Read more here.
Manatt: New York Imposes Extensive Behavioral Health Parity Compliance Rules

On September 30, 2020, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) and Department of Health (DOH) promulgated regulations requiring health insurers operating in the state to develop and implement a mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) parity compliance program. Health plans are required to have these parity compliance programs in place by December 29, 2020, and must annually attest to the DFS or DOH that such programs are in place.

With these regulations, New York joins other states that have recently increased the rigor with which they scrutinize non-quantitative treatment limitations (NQTLs) for behavioral health conditions. While federal law obligates insurers to impose NQTLs on MH/SUD services no more stringently than on medical and surgical (med/surg) services, states, and in some cases individual litigants, principally enforce these parity rules against insurers under the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and state counterparts. This has created some degree of state variability in what is an inherently thorny and unpredictable area of health plan compliance. Read more here.
2 Mistakes Payers Can Avoid in Mental, Behavioral Health Screenings

Payers have been tapping self-service screenings to address behavioral and mental healthcare, but that process has been anything but perfect.

This is evidenced by the fact that the mental and behavioral healthcare crisis has not abated: a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) report recently found that a third of Millennials have a behavioral health condition. Depression among Millennials rose by 43 percent from 2014 to 2018.

Poor mental and behavioral health screenings are not causing the increase in disease burden, but it could be why so much mental illness goes untreated.

According to Salvatore Cieri, clinical coordinator of behavioral health services for BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York (BlueCross BlueShield), there are two pitfalls that payers’ screenings may exhibit. Read more here.
Challenges to Providing Behavioral Health Care During Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has significantly impacted the delivery of behavioral health services, which had to modify rapidly from in-person to remote, according to a Rutgers study published in the Community Mental Health Journal.

The researchers surveyed 238 behavioral health care providers throughout New York — one of the early epicenters of the pandemic in the United States — on the challenges they faced regarding staff providing services remotely, maintaining safety practices in person and the ability for clients to use technology to receive services, which are often more effectively provided in-person.

"Understanding this impact is particularly important as these services support vulnerable populations that may be at higher risk for coronavirus infection as well as other negative consequences," says lead author Kenneth Gill, chair of the Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions at Rutgers School of Health Professions. He discusses their findings here.
BJA Launches Online Tools to Equip Communities to Implement Overdose Fatality Reviews—and Save Lives

Overdose fatality reviews (OFRs) have emerged in recent years as one of the best strategies—and hopes—yet to save lives in the nationwide battle against substance abuse. By coordinating the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of law enforcement and EMS personnel, medical examiners, public and behavioral health, child and social services providers, and others, OFRs enable communities to spot missed opportunities for intervention, identify service gaps, and improve collaboration to prevent future deaths.

In September, BJA took a major step toward helping communities realize OFRs’ potential by launching an online package of tools, expert guidance, and training opportunities on the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) Resource Center to support the implementation of OFRs, both for COSSAP grantees and the field generally. Read more here.
Integrated Care Programs for Dually Eligible Individuals in the Era of COVID-19: Response Efforts and Policy Recommendations

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, it has become evident that people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid are among the nation’s most at-risk for and vulnerable to the virus. With this group of individuals largely receiving care in uncoordinated, fragmented systems, it is critical to identify opportunities to strengthen programs and policies to best support this population during the pandemic and in the future. Integrated care programs offer opportunities to align enrollment, care coordination, and incentives across payers and providers to support positive health and care outcomes. This report distills insights about COVID-19 response efforts from states and health plans that offer integrated programs.
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.

Affiliated with the NYS Association of Counties (NYSAC)