MHW: Trump’s FY 19 Budget Proposes Medicaid Cuts, MH Reductions

Trump’s FY 19 Budget Proposes Medicaid Cuts, MH Reductions

Mental Health Weekly February 19, 2018

President Trump released his FY 2019 budget proposal that restructures the Medicaid program and cuts other critical mental health programs and services. Many in the field think his proposal is a rehash of last year’s attempts by lawmakers to overhaul the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and dismantle the Medicaid program.

While the White House budget includes funding for opioid treatment and an expansion of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) demonstration project, there are other concerns for the field. The White House budget request includes ending the Medicaid expansion and cutting $83 billion to Social Security over 10 years. It also implements work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries and increased cost-sharing.

The proposal would cut $112 million to mental health programs of regional and national significance. About $50 million of that funding is from primary behavioral health integration.

“We’re right back where we were last year,” Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D., executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, told MHW. “We need to be careful and we need to hang on to what we have.”

Manderscheid pointed to the field’s successful endeavor last year in its partnership with the general health community to present a strong unified voice to respond to numerous legislative bills to slash funding for Medicaid and take away key provisions from the ACA. “I hope we’re able to respond [similarly] to this proposal, which in my opinion would be devastating to behavioral health care,” he said.

Trump is proposing to block grant the Medicaid program, which the field vigorously opposed last year, he said. “As soon as you block grant it, the value of the money is going down,” said Manderscheid.

The proposal would narrow down services for people with serious mental illness, both children and adults, and many people could end up in jail or homeless, he said. “You’re giving money to the state to take care of people who can’t afford insurance,” said Manderscheid. “The concept is the problem.”

Proposed funding

Funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Community Mental Health Block Grant would be level-funded at $563 million, according to a budget report prepared by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant is also level-funded.

Under the proposal, the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness would receive $65 million, representing no change from the 2017 enacted budget.

Among the proposal’s provisions, veterans’ mental health and suicide   prevention   would   receive $8.6 billion, meaning a $468 million increase over FY 2018.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive $23.75 billion, representing an $8.96 billion cut from the current year’s level. The president’s addendum adds $9.2 billion, which restores NIH to the 2017 enacted budget level.

Of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set- aside for opioids and serious mental illness, the budget proposes $750 million for the NIH: $400 million for the NIH’s public-private partnership on opioids and $350 million for re- search on opioids, serious mental illness and pain.

Medicare

The president’s proposal calls for implementing Medicare payment reform. The Medicare program is very important for people with mental illness, Manderscheid said. Many of the beneficiaries are dual-eligible for Medicaid, he said. “That makes mental health available to not only young people who are dually eligible, but also the elderly who have mental health conditions,” Manderscheid said.

The Medicare copay for mental health beneficiaries was 50 percent for 50 years, compared to where it is today at 20 percent, Manderscheid said. “The field fought and got it changed,” he said. “We’ve got to keep fighting to keep what we have here and not lose ground.”

More field feedback

While there are some good things in the president’s proposals, there are also some troubling provisions as well, such as an attempt to restructure Medicaid, said Andrew Sperling, director of legislative and policy advocacy at NAMI. “It endorses the Graham/Cassidy [legislation], which is not a good thing,” Sperling told MHW, referring to one of last year’s attempts to roll back the ACA. The repeal legislation was authored by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana).

The per capita caps on Medicaid are also very troubling, noted Sperling. The block grant approaches and per-capita caps could reduce funding for mental health services and supports, according to NAMI.

The budget also proposes to cut $83 billion to Social Security over 10 years, including $70 billion in proposed cuts to disability programs. Trump’s proposal would promote demonstration programs that in- crease the number of people on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in the workforce. The proposal would cut $48.4 billion. The rule changes to SSI and SSDI are very troubling, said Sperling.

“The good thing is that the administration is getting on board and adding more resources for mental health and opioid treatment,” said Sperling, adding that there’s still some confusion about the specific funding sources.

The question, said Sperling, is whether the proposed $10 billion is on top of money Congress is already allocating ($2 billion from the 21st Century Cures Act) and the $6 billion allocated over FY 2018/19 in Congress’s two-year budget agreement.  At this point, it’s not clear about the actual funding source, he said. (Congress earlier this month reached a two-year budget deal that boosted federal government spending and averted a government shut-down.)

Sperling noted that the president’s proposal has often been deemed “dead on arrival.” “There’s some truth to that,” he said. “In the end, Congress will decide, not the president.”

CCBHC

The National Council for Behavioral Health issued a statement on the president’s budget proposal welcoming the administration’s commitment to expand access to community-based addiction and mental health treatment via the CCBHC demonstration.

The National Council noted that since mid-2017 the CCBHCs have supported community providers in dramatically expanding Americans’ access to timely, evidence-based addiction and mental health treatment in their communities. Just seven months into the program, participating clinics have been able to increase patient caseload, expand or initiate additional treatment services and implement new care coordination partnerships with hospitals and law enforcement agencies.

The National Council also indicated that CCBHCs cannot carry forward if programs like Medicaid, which provide a crucial source of coverage for mental illness and addiction, are “decimated.”

“We’re disappointed that the president continues to bang this drum after Congress failed to move this legislation,” said Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice president of public policy and practice improvement for the National Council, in an interview with MHW last week. Ingoglia pointed to the Medicaid restructuring proposals legislators tried to push last year. “There’s no indication that Congress is advancing that idea,” he said.

Ingoglia said the recent two-year budget deal Congress reached sets much higher numbers for the appropriations committees. Ingoglia said he believes Congress will be very quick in reaching a deal on FY 2018, which may more likely be the framework lawmakers will use for FY 2019.

“It’s very unlikely the cuts to SAMHSA will see the light of day,” said Ingoglia. SAMHSA has not released its budget justification yet, he said. So far, only the high-level numbers have been revealed, he said.

The president’s budget proposal regarding Medicaid would require separate legislation from Congress in order to move forward, he said.

NYAPRS Releases Advocacy Materials for Next Tuesday's Albany Legislative Day

NYAPRS Note: Upwards of 700 NYAPRS advocates are coming to Albany next Tuesday February 27th to raise our collective voices to advance the needs of individuals in our housing, criminal justice and adult home systems. Attached is the Legislative Day Book they’ll distribute to their Assembly and Senate representatives. 
See you Tuesday! For questions, contact me at elenak@nyaprs.org.

NYS Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson to Leave in April

NYAPRS Note: The biggest rumor in Albany for the last month has turned out to be true. NYS Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson will be leaving his post in April. 
Jason has been responsible for one of the most sweeping Medicaid transformations in the nation, if not internationally. We will always be grateful for the clear and unswerving leadership he’s displayed since he came here from Wisconsin in 2011 in moving our systems from ‘volume to value”, judging services based on their capability to improve the healthcare of almost 5 million Medicaid enrollees. We’re thankful too for the new partnerships that have been forged across the state to better integrate care and address avoidable crises and relapses. 
NYAPRS is particularly grateful for the regular access he gave to our consumer and recovery communities in helping to shape new policy, the critical recognition of the essential value of social determinants (e.g. housing, employment, social supports) and most recently, the valuing he’s given to peer delivered services. 
While community based groups continue to scramble while hospital groups have received the lion’s share of new federal Medicaid dollars and while the state continues to attempt to fix the move to health homes and care management for all, there’s no questioning that Jason has put New York’s Medicaid healthcare system on a transformative trajectory that has already delivered on the promise to improve the health of millions of New Yorkers. We will miss him greatly. 

The following reports come from tonight’s Albany Times Union and Politico. 

New York's Medicaid director, Jason Helgerson, will step down from his post later this spring once the 2018-19 state budget is finalized, the governor's office confirmed Tuesday.

In assembling a Medicaid Redesign Team consisting of many of the forces that usually fought off Medicaid reforms or cuts (hospitals and labor, for example) and charging them with reshaping the system, Jason has been able to fundamentally shift how health and behavioral healthcare is and will be delivered in New York. 

Along the way “Cuomo's willingness to provide billions of dollars in capital and operational funding to hospitals and Helgerson's understanding of the Medicaid program, specifically the new opportunities the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act were offering states” proved to be essential elements. The Medicaid Redesign Team brought together health care interests from across the state and they soon agreed to cut Medicaid rates by 2 percent, cap the growth of state Medicaid spending and apply for an enormous waiver that would bring billions in federal dollars back to New York,” Politico reported.

Jason’s “legacy will be inexorably linked to the state's Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program, or DSRIP, an $8 billion Medicaid waiver from the federal government that seeks to both reduce avoidable hospitalizations by 25 percent and provide health systems across the state with the resources they need to transition to value-based care,” Politico reported.  

“Helgerson has faced criticism during his tenure as have the programs he has championed. The DSRIP program is derided by some as a hospital giveaway that failed to do enough to involve community-based organizations. Claims data remains too cumbersome to obtain for any practical use. The health homes program has not lived up to its hype. And the Medicaid program has been criticized recently for failing to do enough to reform care delivery for children.”

"Jason's a nationally recognized pro who has been an invaluable part of Team Cuomo during the past seven and a half years," said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi. "He was instrumental in redesigning New York's Medicaid system to lower costs and help more residents, was invaluable with our efforts to secure the Medicaid waiver from the Obama administration that allowed the largest health care system transformation in the nation to continue, and greatly helped in our efforts to defeat punitive Republican federal legislation that would have devastated New York's healthcare network," he said. "We will miss him greatly and wish him well in his next chapter."

"He was instrumental in redesigning New York's Medicaid system to lower costs and help more residents, was invaluable with our efforts to secure the Medicaid waiver from the Obama administration that allowed the largest healthcare system transformation in the nation to continue, and greatly helped in our efforts to defeat punitive Republican federal legislation that would have devastated New York's healthcare network. We will miss him greatly and wish him well in his next chapter." 

NYAPRS Releases Executive Seminar Program, Registration Details!

NYAPRS is very pleased to release program and registration details for our upcoming April 19-20th Annual Executive Seminar in Albany!

This year’s program focuses on examining new partnerships and strategies to successfully engage and support people with the most extensive behavioral health, medical and social challenges that have in recent years become top national and NYS priorities. 
On the national front, our program will kick off with welcome remarks from NYS Deputy Secretary for Health Paul Francis and a keynote address by the nation’s first ever HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz with a reaction panel that includes consumer and family members of the new federal Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, NYAPRS new policy director Elena Kravitz and well know advocate and author Pete Early. The panel also includes national provider advocate Rebecca Farley from the National Council, rights advocate Jennifer Mathis from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and NYCDOHMH Bureau of Mental Health’s medical director Dr. Pablo Sadler

We’ll then hear from a NYS based panel that will look at what we’re doing on the ground to support this group that will be followed by sessions on Peer Services, Addiction Recovery Supports featuring former SAMHSA advisor Tom Coderre, DSRIP innovations, Criminal Justice initiatives and the Social Determinants of Health

Friday will feature an informal discussion with NYS Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson, a reaction panel and a plenary session on Strategies to Take on Health Inequity.  

See program schedule at 2018 Brochure OR https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58739f64e6f2e14a3527a002/t/5a871315e4966bc89503f246/1518801688963/Executive+Seminar+Brochure+2018.pdf, via the attachment or below. 
Register today at Register Here! OR https://rms.nyaprs.org/event/?page=CiviCRM&q=civicrm/event/register&reset=1&id=26

See you in April!

NYAPRS Releases Executive Seminar Program, Registration Details!

NYAPRS is very pleased to release program and registration details for our upcoming April 19-20th Annual Executive Seminar in Albany!

This year’s program focuses on examining new partnerships and strategies to successfully engage and support people with the most extensive behavioral health, medical and social challenges that have in recent years become top national and NYS priorities. 
On the national front, our program will kick off with welcome remarks from NYS Deputy Secretary for Health Paul Francis and a keynote address by the nation’s first ever HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz with a reaction panel that includes consumer and family members of the new federal Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, NYAPRS new policy director Elena Kravitz and well know advocate and author Pete Early. The panel also includes national provider advocate Rebecca Farley from the National Council, rights advocate Jennifer Mathis from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and NYCDOHMH Bureau of Mental Health’s medical director Dr. Pablo Sadler

We’ll then hear from a NYS based panel that will look at what we’re doing on the ground to support this group that will be followed by sessions on Peer Services, Addiction Recovery Supports featuring former SAMHSA advisor Tom Coderre, DSRIP innovations, Criminal Justice initiatives and the Social Determinants of Health

Friday will feature an informal discussion with NYS Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson, a reaction panel and a plenary session on Strategies to Take on Health Inequity.  

See program schedule at 2018 Brochure OR https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58739f64e6f2e14a3527a002/t/5a871315e4966bc89503f246/1518801688963/Executive+Seminar+Brochure+2018.pdf, via the attachment or below. 
Register today at Register Here! OR https://rms.nyaprs.org/event/?page=CiviCRM&q=civicrm/event/register&reset=1&id=26

See you in April!

New Educational Video Series on Adult Behavioral Health Medicaid Managed Care!

NYAPRS Note: NYS and NYC government has officially released a video series that helps explain what Health and Recovery Plans, Health Homes and Home and Community Based Services are and to encourage eligible individuals to enroll and make use of all of them. NYAPRS and our partners at the Mental Health Empowerment Project have been offering on site trainings and individual outreach services on these topic for almost a year, via our state funded New Choices in Recovery initiative. We have been field testing the videos in the community for a few months now and find them to be very effective for a variety of groups. To schedule a local training, please contact us at eileenc@nyaprs.org; for more details, please see the attached flyer. 

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Now Available: New Educational Video Series on Adult Behavioral Health Medicaid Managed Care

NYS is announcing the release of the new Adult Behavioral Health Medicaid Managed Care Video Series, now available online and included in the New Choices in Recovery presentations held across New York State.

About the Video Series

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH), in partnership with the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the Center for Practice Innovations have developed a series of educational videos intended to familiarize individuals and their physical and behavioral health providers with:

  • Medicaid Managed Care Health and Recovery Plans (HARPs); 
  • Adult Behavioral Health (BH) Home and Community Based Services (BH HCBS); and  
  • Health Home Care Management

The series also walks through the process of accessing Behavioral Health (BH) Home and Community Based Services, including the role of Care Managers, the Eligibility Assessment, and the Person-Centered Plan of Care. 

The series includes the following videos:

  1.  Introduction
  2. Health Homes
  3. Care Managers
  4. Health and Recovery Plans (HARPs)
  5. BH HCBS Eligibility Assessment
  6. Person-Centered Plan of Care
  7. Behavioral Health (BH) Home and Community Based Services

The video series is also available on the CPI Consumer Education Portal. NYS is currently working with NYC DOHMH to provide translations.

About HARPs and BH HCBS

HARPs are health insurance plans offered by select Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) for people with serious mental illness and substance use disorders. These Plans offer specialized services and additional behavioral health benefits such as rehabilitation and wellness services including peer support, individualized employment assistance, education support, and more to eligible individuals. These benefits are called Adult Behavioral Health Home and Community-Based Services (Adult BH HCBS).

About New Choices in Recovery Peer Outreach Trainings 

Conducted by Peer Outreach Specialists from the New York Association of Rehabilitation Services, Inc. (NYAPRS), the New Choices in Recovery trainings are face-to-face presentations where peers and families can learn more about specialized behavioral health (mental health and substance use) opportunities related to NYS Behavioral Health Medicaid Managed Care, including Health and Recovery Plans and Adult Behavioral Health (BH) Home and Community Based Services. If you would like to get more information on these presentations, or schedule a presentation in your community, please call 518-621-1347.

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Tragic Death of Deborah Danner Followed by Tragic Exoneration of the Officer Who Killed Her

NYAPRS Note: The tragedy of Deborah Danner’s tragic death has been followed by another tragedy, yesterday’s court ruling that exonerated the NYC police officer who killed her, on the grounds that police training guidelines were insufficient clear yet despite that “the only other officer with a clear view, Camilo Rosario, said the bullets hit Ms. Danner before she swung the bat.” 
The Police Department left unanswered the question of whether Sergeant Barry would be welcomed back into the force or disciplined. In a statement, Mr. O’Neill said the Police Department would now proceed with its own “disciplinary review of the tactical and supervisory decisions leading to the discharge of a firearm in this case.”
Family and Black Lives Matters representatives assailed the verdict; see https://tinyurl.com/y9qjqvnh 
Look for information about a community vigil organized by representatives from Community Access and NYAPRS. 
For more information about Ms. Danner’s murder, see https://www.nyaprs.org/e-news-bulletins/2016/on-the-tragic-death-of-deborah-danner

NYPD Sergeant Acquitted In Deborah Danner's Death

NY Daily News  February 16, 2018

The acquittal of a veteran NYPD sergeant in the fatal shooting of a schizophrenic Bronx woman came Thursday in a deadly quiet courtroom — and then the shouting started.

City police unions praised the verdict before they blasted Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill after a Bronx bench trial ended with Sgt. Hugh Barry’s exoneration on all charges.

The sergeant sat stoically as Supreme Court Judge Robert Neary announced his decision around 9:40 a.m. in the dramatic finish to Barry’s trial for killing Deborah Danner, 66, inside her Bronx apartment.

Barry, 31, was charged with murder after firing two bullets into the mentally ill woman’s chest during a quickly escalating showdown that lasted just seconds.

The victim’s sister Jennifer Danner raised her eyebrows slightly as the officer was cleared in the killing. Barry testified that his life was in danger when Danner swung a 32-inch baseball bat at his head….

The victim’s family and friends…questioned how Barry was found guilty of no crime in the killing of a senior citizen.

Danner’s cousin Wallace Cooke Jr., a former NYPD officer, expressed his disgust after hearing the decision in a trial that lasted just over two weeks.

“Police departments allow this to happen,” he said. “To have this going on today is unacceptable.”

And the victim’s friend Chris Berry, after attending the trial daily, expected the verdict handed down by Neary.

“It’s not a surprise at all," she said. “It’s virtually impossible to convict a police officer. It’s heartbreaking...I’m really sorry that (Deborah) met that untimely, tragic death.”

Both de Blasio and O’Neill condemned Barry’s handling of the case in short order, and the DA’s office pressed for a murder indictment in the case.

Barry became the first NYPD member to face a top homicide count for an on-duty shooting since 1999, when four cops were charged in the killing of unarmed Amadou Diallo as he reached for his wallet.

All, like Barry, were acquitted at trial.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/nypd-acquitted-deborah-danner-death-article-1.3822467

Police Sergeant Acquitted in Killing of Mentally Ill Woman

 
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By  New York Times February 16, 2018

A New York City police sergeant was acquitted Thursday of murder in the fatal 2016 shooting of a bat-wielding, mentally ill 66-year-old woman in the bedroom of her Bronx apartment.

The death of the woman, Deborah Danner, became a flash point in the national, racially charged debate over whether police officers are too quick to shoot people and whether they are adequately trained and sufficiently conscientious in their dealings with people suffering from severe mental illness.

The sergeant, Hugh Barry, 32, had also been charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide and chose to have his case decided by a judge instead of a jury; he was acquitted on all counts by Justice Robert A. Neary of State Supreme Court.

Because the sergeant claimed self-defense, Justice Neary said that the prosecution needed to prove that he was “not justified in the use of deadly physical force.”

“The prosecution’s evidence has failed to meet that burden of proof,” he said.

Sergeant Barry’s trial focused on the Police Department’s protocols for dealing with emotionally disturbed persons, or “E.D.P.’s.” Prosecutors argued that Sergeant Barry escalated the encounter by not proceeding as cautiously as departmental guidelines and his training demanded.

Some critics of the police said that Ms. Danner, a black woman who was shot by a white sergeant, was another casualty of a criminal justice system that values white lives over black ones.

But the sergeant’s lawyer, Andrew C. Quinn, argued that the department’s training set few hard-and-fast rules, often leaving decision-making to field supervisors, such as Sergeant Barry, a nine-year veteran.

Sergeant Barry remained suspended from the force with pay Thursday morning. Union leaders called for his immediate reinstatement. They characterized his conduct as not only legal, but entirely reasonable. “I think any sergeant, or officer, put in the same situation would react the same way,” said Ed Mullins, the president of the sergeants’ union.

Sergeant Barry shot Ms. Danner at about 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2016, in the bedroom of her seventh-floor apartment at 630 Pugsley Avenue. From the start, he maintained he had acted in self-defense. He said Ms. Danner refused his orders to drop a baseball bat and began to swing it at him.

The police had been called by a building security guard because Ms. Danner, a paranoid schizophrenic with a history of hospitalizations, had been ranting in a hallway and tearing posters off the wall. It was the third such call in two years. The previous two times the police had to break down her door to extricate her.

The shooting drew swift condemnations from Mayor Bill de Blasio and James P. O’Neill, the police commissioner, who said Sergeant Barry had failed to follow protocols, though neither said he had committed a crime.

On Thursday, the Police Department left unanswered the question of whether Sergeant Barry would be welcomed back into the force or disciplined. In a statement, Mr. O’Neill said the Police Department would now proceed with its own “disciplinary review of the tactical and supervisory decisions leading to the discharge of a firearm in this case.”

The Bronx district attorney, Darcel Clark, expressed disappointment with the verdict, adding in a statement that Ms. Danner’s death “illustrates the larger issue of how we need changes in the way we address people with mental health issues.”

For many New Yorkers, the case echoed the 1984 shooting of Eleanor Bumpurs, another mentally ill woman killed by the police in her Bronx apartment.
Ms. Danner, a former information-technology worker who lived alone, was well aware of Ms. Bumpurs’s fate. She cited it in a 2012 essay about her struggles with schizophrenia. “They used deadly force to subdue her because they were not trained sufficiently in how to engage the mentally ill in crisis,” she wrote. “This was not an isolated incident.”

Since the Bumpurs killing, officers have been trained to isolate and contain emotionally disturbed people, taking time and continuing to talk to them to persuade them to comply.

But the trial underscored the distinction between questionable tactics and criminal conduct that has made convictions of police officers rare even in killings where they deviate from protocol.

At the three-week trial, prosecutors argued that Sergeant Barry had rushed to subdue Ms. Danner, forcing the fatal confrontation. They faulted him for not learning details of two recent encounters Ms. Danner had had with the police, despite riding the elevator to Ms. Danner’s floor with her sister. And once he entered the apartment, prosecutors said, he could have called for help from a police unit specializing in dealing with the mentally ill.

But Mr. Quinn, the sergeant’s lawyer, argued that it was far from clear what Sergeant Barry should have done. If he had shut the bedroom door to isolate Ms. Danner, she might have stabbed herself with the scissors — in which case he might have been blamed for not intervening more resolutely, Mr. Quinn said.

Sergeant Barry, who testified in his own defense, said that when he arrived and learned from another officer that Ms. Danner was in her bedroom with scissors and refused to come out, he started talking to her, coaxing her to speak to emergency medical technicians.

After a few minutes, he said, she slammed the scissors down on a nightstand and came just outside her bedroom door.

Sergeant Barry said he figured Ms. Danner would not come any farther. He decided to grab her before she could return to the bedroom and grab the scissors again. He nodded to the other officers and rushed her.

But Ms. Danner retreated to the bedroom, jumped on the bed, and pulled a baseball bat from the bedclothes. Sergeant Barry ordered her to drop it. She stood up in a batter’s stance and moved her foot toward him to start a swing. He fired twice into her torso.

“I just see the bat swinging and that’s when I fired,” he testified.

He said he could not back up because his colleagues were crowded close behind him.

The only other officer with a clear view, Camilo Rosario, said the bullets hit Ms. Danner before she swung the bat, though he added that he believed she was about to swing.

Sergeant Barry’s account differed in many small but significant ways from those of some of the five other officers and two medics who were present. Officer Rosario, for instance, recalled that it was he who persuaded Ms. Danner to put down her scissors and come to the bedroom door.

Throughout the trial, members of the Sergeants Benevolent Association union sat in the front row in a show of support. Several said they thought the prosecution was politically motivated.

Members of the Episcopal churches Ms. Danner attended, her sister, and Black Lives Matter activists also filled the benches. As Justice Neary delivered his verdict, they sat with their hands at their mouths and closed their eyes.

The judge offered no detailed explanation.

Some of Ms. Danner’s supporters criticized the verdict. “Racism is still alive and kicking and anyone who tells you different is lying,” said Wallace Cooke Jr., a former city police officer whose cousin is Ms. Danner’s mother. Hawk Newsome, a Black Lives Matter activist, said the verdict felt “like somebody just ripped my heart out.”

Sergeant Barry’s supporters were jubilant. Officers hugged and clasped hands. Some wiped away tears.

Another Black Lives Matter activist, Joshua Lopez, 39, called after the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, “What if that was your mother?”

Matthew Heyd, a priest at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Manhattan, recalled Ms. Danner as “always in church,” and a frequent participant in knitting circles and discussion groups. “She always asked the tough questions,” he said.

In her own essay, Ms. Danner described schizophrenia as “a curse” that led to “a complete loss of control.”

Her illness, she wrote, had cost her jobs and family ties. She described roaming through the streets with a knife in search of a public place to kill herself. When she was well, she wrote, she was constantly examining herself for signs of a relapse.

“Generally speaking, those who don’t suffer believe the worst of those of us who do,” she wrote. “We’re asked to accept less than our natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Nate Schweber contributed reporting.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/nyregion/police-sergeant-acquitted-in-killing-of-mentally-ill-woman.html


Cop Who Killed Deborah Danner Acquitted: #SayHerName Must Get The #MeToo Treatment
newsone.com

No justice, no peace.

Deborah Danner‘s family received a devastating blow on Thursday when the New York police sergeant who killed the 66-year-old mentally ill Black woman in October 2016 was cleared of all charges. Bronx Supreme Court Judge Robert Neary acquitted Sgt. Hugh Barry in the police brutality case that had drawn support from many activists, including the #SayHerName movement.

Barry was charged with second-degree murder, two counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide by prosecutors who decried his actions as “reckless,” the New York Daily News reported. A burden of proof was not reached due to lacking evidence from prosecutors, Neary said at Barry’s bench trial. The judge’s verdict is unsurprising, to say the least, sending the message that there is a great distance between crime and punishment when it comes to those who take Black lives.

Danner was fatally shot twice after a seconds-long standoff with Barry in the bedroom of her apartment in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx on Oct. 18, 2016. After responding to a 911 call about Danner tearing down fliers, they entered her apartment. Danner, a paranoid schizophrenic who was described as visibly “agitated,” ran to her bedroom in fear and grabbed a pair of scissors, police said. As the encounter escalated into a standoff, police failed to follow proper protocols in dealing with someone with emotional issues, assistant district attorney Wanda Perez-Maldonado argued during Wednesday’s summations.

“[As a member of the NYPD,] your goal is to protect life and for everybody to be safe,” Perez-Maldonado said. “He failed to fulfill his duties as a patrol supervisor, failed to use make use of all the resources available. He created the situation that led to her death. He failed Ms. Danner.”

Within five minutes of arriving at Danner’s home, Barry fired two deadly bullets into the senior citizen and caused her death. It was a killing that New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said was “unnecessary” almost immediately after Danner’s shooting, DNAinfo New York reported.

“She did not present a threat to other people because she was in a contained space,” DeBlasio said at the time.

Danner’s case caught the attention of many activists for spotlighting Black deaths related to mental health. And Danner’s name became a part of #SayHerName, a movement raising awareness about Black female victims of police brutality and anti-Black violence. For a cause that began in 2015 and has been championed by activists, celebrities and academics including its founder Kimberlé Crenshaw, it has not reached the level of recognition of the #MeToo movement. 

The #MeToo movement, initially begun by Tarana Burke, who is Black, has crossed cultural divides. However, #SayHerName, which fights to bring attention to Black women who are victims of police violence, has mainly found support among Black women.

But what if #SayHerName was supported by women of all races?  What if #SayHerName connected congresswomen and Hollywood women to Black women like Danner?

The #SayHerName movement can reach more people, gain more strength —and grow—as #MeToo has since it began 10 years ago.

https://newsone.com/3774708/deborah-danner-case-trial-shooting-hugh-barry-cop-acquitted/
 

Hearts Are Not Just Valentines

NYAPRS Note: Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be over, it can be everyday. The perfect follow up to SAMHA’s Program to Achieve Wellness “Healthy Heart.., is the February issue of WoW. Open the attached PDF file to read about what else we can do to achieve  heart health Healthy tips on connection, caring and compassion.

 
Click Image to View PDF

Click Image to View PDF

 

URGENT: PLEASE ACT TODAY TO HELP SAVE THE ADA!

 
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SAVE THE ADA! - 2/8/2018

Next week, on Wednesday, February 14 or Thursday, February 15, the House of Representatives may vote on H.R. 620, a dangerous bill that strips away the civil rights of people with disabilities.  We hope you will join the disability and civil rights communities to fight this terrible bill.

H.R. 620, the so-called "ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017," says that businesses no longer have to be proactive and make sure that they are accessible to people with disabilities.  Instead, a business can remain inaccessible until a person with a disability who has been denied access jumps through multiple hoops to notify the business that it is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and then waits up to 6 months for the business to make "progress" in fixing the problem. These notice requirements and vague "progress" mean that it will be months before people with disabilities can see the doctor, or buy a cake, or eat at a restaurant with friends.  This bill is a travesty and upends the intent and purpose of the ADA.  No other individuals protected by our civil rights laws are treated this way and bear this burden.  It is unacceptable.

Please join us in the fight to defeat H.R. 620 in the House of Representatives by participating in the following Days of Action: 

  • Friday, February 9 - Monday, February 12: SEND EMAIL ACTIONS urging members of the House to VOTE NO on H.R. 620;
  • Monday, February 12: ASK your supporters and members to participate in the Save The ADA CALL IN DAY and tell their representative to VOTE NO on H.R. 620;
  • Tuesday, February 13: GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and post your opposition to HR 620 all day long, using hashtags #HandsOffMyADA, #VoteNoHR620, #CripTheVote;
  • Any day, SEND A LETTER of opposition to HR 620 to all House offices;
  • Day of the vote (possibly Wednesday or Thursday): CALL AND TWEET all day and tell members of the House to VOTE NO! 

On our website, you can find a list of resources and a toolkit of sample tweets, template action alerts, and phone scripts. 

It has been 27 years since the passage of the ADA and yet people with disabilities still face enormous barriers.  This bill will only make things worse, not better.
Help us tell this Congress that the civil rights of people with disabilities will not be bargained away.

Thank you!


Your Support Is Needed

The Bazelon Center relies on contributions from our allies to ensure that our staff can fight for protections and services for people with mental disabilities. Please consider making a gift today. 

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Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law |
communications@bazelon.org | 202-467-5730 | bazelon.org

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