ACL Legislative Day
Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY
ACL 2015 LEGISLATIVE DAY REVIEW
On Monday, March 9, 2015, 250 ACL Members joined us for our Annual Legislative Day. After a descriptive briefing of our Legislative Priorities for our members from Doug Cooper, each group – with their own personalized agenda – moved on to their appointments, which were set up in advance by Lindsey Chase of ACL. They brought with them individualized briefing books for each legislator that showed the programs in each district and a summary of our priorities and our budget request – $82 million for all 4 types of OMH funded housing programs. We completed more than 130 legislative appointments between 11:00A.M. and 2:30P.M.
We were joined in our budget request by NYAPRS, MHA-NYS, NAMI-NYS, The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies and SHNNY, who all had legislative/lobby days within two weeks of ours. The Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors have been working with us, side by side, since last September, resulting in $10 million for Supported Housing in the Governor’s proposed budget. We heard from legislators all over the state that they are well aware of the housing issue. It’s working.
We are thankful to the ACL Members who came out and participated in what is ACL’s most important grassroots advocacy day of the year. Please MARK YOUR CALENDAR for next year – Monday, March 14, 2016— Because the more voices we have in Albany relaying the same message, the better chance we have to save and improve the most comprehensive mental health housing system in the nation!
SUMMARY OF ACL’s BUDGET PRIORITIES
- Add $29 million to the Supported Housing rate statewide in 2015 to make up for losses from inflation and to ensure that Supported Housing is sustained, basing future rates on a reasonable formula. Health Home care coordinators do not take the place of housing staff, while the new guidelines will place extra financial burdens on providers.
- Add $23.2 million for CR-SROs to make up for losses from inflation and so that they can better serve those with challenging needs. These provide a high level of service and can be very long-term stay or permanent.
- Add $17 million for the CR program (includes both CRs and Treatment Apartments) to make-up for losses from inflation and to incentivize providers to admit the most challenging clients safely. This would have the added value of ramping up the model’s efficiency in rehabilitating people more quickly, most likely an outcome that the MCOs will expect when this model is moved into Managed Care. This number subtracts the estimated BIP revenue. This would be the state share for an increase and would be used to leverage approximately $15.5 million in Federal Medicaid money.
- Add $12.7 million to SP-SROs, permanent housing with supports, to make up for losses from inflation and to better equip them to serve clients with more challenging service needs.
- Add 30,000 units to expand NYNY IV beyond the Executive Budget allocation of 5,000 for a total of 35,000 units, with 30,000 in New York City and 5,000 for upstate
- Support the $10 million enhancement in the executive budget proposal for OMH Supported Housing programs.
- Support the 2% COLA. Redirect this COLA so that it is not specific to any staff positions, but is flexible in use.
- Support the Governor’s proposal of $22 million in Wrap-Around Supports for Persons Discharged from Prisons: We support the proposed Executive Budget’s commitment for$22 million in new OMH funding to provide pre-discharge supports and planning, wraparound community-based services, and supported housing for individuals with psychiatric disabilities and/or diagnoses who are in the process of being discharged from state prisons. These funds are critically necessary to enhance appropriate discharge planning and successful reintegration into the community and to avoid an otherwise disproportionately high rate of recidivism.
SUMMARY OF ACL’s LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
- Presumptive Medicaid Eligibility: Presumptive eligibility for New Yorkers with behavioral health conditions leaving the prison system will extend 60 days of access to critically needed Medicaid funded community services and supports at the time an individual is released. This is critical in facilitating safe and healthy community transitions before a more formal application and approval for full Medicaid benefits occurs. This policy will greatly reduce avoidable relapses and re-incarcerations while saving the state considerable money from the preventable use of criminal justice or inpatient facilities.
- Prescriber Prevails: The policy of Prescriber Prevails puts doctor and patient choice ahead of decisions that would otherwise be made by Medicaid payers. Many consumers require very specific medications (brand name over generic drugs at times) in order to get and stay well and to avoid harmful side effects. For the third year in a row, the Executive Budget proposes to eliminate this important protection that ensures safety and choice.
- Prohibit Solitary Confinement for people with psychiatric or physical disabilities by passing 1346A. Symptoms associated with psychiatric disabilities are often viewed as antagonistic behavior by officers and result in inhumane 23 hour-a-day isolation for people with serious mental illness. Solitary confinement exacerbates trauma for persons with pre-existing psychiatric disabilities and has been shown to cause serious psychiatric symptoms and conditions for people with no such past histories. The state must offer treatment not torture to its most vulnerable.
- Approve Mental Health Tax Check off Bill – A.833/S.632. Stigma is the number one reason why two out of every three people who need mental health services never seek them. Combating stigma can promote recovery for New Yorkers by providing education and resources about mental health diagnoses and services, reinforcing dignity through media campaigns, and promoting community inclusion (access to housing, jobs) by humanizing people with psychiatric disabilities. Supporting a tax check off bill is recognition of the need to combat stigma for New Yorkers with mental health needs, the proceeds of which will be utilized for public awareness campaigns to work against negative stigmatization.