Alert: Kelley Urges NYAPRS Members to Send Waiver Letters of Support TODAY

NYAPRS Note: The following comes from NYAPRS Co-President Elect MauraKelley.

I am writing to encourage all NYAPRS member and other community mental health agencies to send a letter TODAY (the deadline) in support of the significant increase in peer support, housing and cultural competence training that is included in New York's Medicaid Waiver proposal.

Letters should be sent in to the NYS Health Department at mrtwaiver at health.state.ny.us. DOH will send these on to the federal Medicaid agency, CMS.

I've attached the letter I used below. We urge all of our members for their support in this crucial endeavor. Please send in a letter today! This is a viable option to keep peer services alive and growing to promote recovery.

Maura Kelley, CPRP Co-Chair President Elect NYAPRS, Director, Mental Health Peer Connection, Western New York Independent Living Buffalo, NY

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August 27, 2012

Dear Sir or Madam:

We are writing to you today in support of New York's MRT 1115 Waiver Amendment.

We understand that there is a plan to reinvest the anticipated Medicaid savings into a number of key priorities of interest to us and the people we serve that would include:

* $750 million for supported housing and related services

o There is a severe shortage of appropriate housing for people diagnosed with severe mental illness. Lack of access to affordable, accessible, integrated housing is the most significant barrier to people with disabilities who wish to transition from institutions or other segregated settings, who are at risk of institutionalization or who are homeless and would prefer to live independently in the community and are capable of doing so with support.

o As of February 1, 2011, there were 24,617 families on the NYC Housing Authority's waiting list for Section 8 Housing, which has been closed since May 14, 2007.1

o New York City lost over 32,340 units of privately owned subsidized rental housing between 1990 and 2005.2 There are currently approximately 171,500 subsidized housing units in New York City, many of which have subsidies that will expire unless action is taken to preserve them.3

* Millions for peer run service pilots, training and evaluation

o There is significant evidence that peer run services greatly assist people with severe mental illness to integrate and maintain themselves in the community of their choice. While the main advantage of hiring a peer workforce is the lived experience that peers bring to the table, they need to be adequately trained to perform the various tasks that doing peer work entails. Funding for peer run service pilots would ensure that more people would have access to their valuable services. Funding for training and evaluation would ensure that staff achieves and maintains a level of competency.

* $525 million to shore up health homes infrastructure, some of which may be used to plan to incorporate peer and rehabilitative services more fully into health home designs

o The new health home initiative will coordinate people's care ensuring that both their physical health and mental health needs will be met. The addition of peers and rehabilitative services will serve to enhance the new service delivery.

* $550 million for workforce retraining, including training that promotes recovery and cultural competence

o As we shift to a recovery-oriented service delivery, staff will need to be re-trained so that they can offer services through this lens rather than the traditional model.

* $23 million for an extensive ombudsman program to help inform, protect the rights and pursue complaints of Medicaid managed care beneficiaries

* Creating an ombudsman program will allow informally conducted impartial fact-finding about complaints or concerns. This will help to ensure the agency is meeting its quality and timeliness standards, or as appropriate in certain individual cases, seek to bring about a mutually agreeable resolution.

Mental Health Peer Connection is a peer-run not-for-profit corporation dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with mental illness. Located in Western New York, our recovery-oriented services help people with severe mental illness obtain jobs, housing, social supports, education, vocational training, entitlements, and other life-enhancing services.

Mental Health Peer Connection believes that individuals can and do recover from mental illness. We work to support recovery efforts and to decrease the stigma and alienation related to mental health diagnoses. We believe that all persons should be treated with respect and compassion, and we value the rights of all persons to transform their lives.

With our support, many of our customers are able to integrate into their chosen communities and establish and maintain productive and purposeful lives thereby saving the State millions of dollars. Passing this waiver will help us save the State even more money as adequate and efficient peer services, trained staff and appropriate, affordable housing become more available.

We strongly urge you to pass New York's MRT 1115 Waiver Amendment. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Maura Kelley, CPRP

Mental Health Peer Connection

Director,

Co-Chair President Elect

New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation

1 About NYCHA: Fact Sheet, http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/about/factsheet.shtml, Revised on March 18, 2011.

2 Neighborworks America Study: Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategies in Hot Housing Markets, Jesse Mintz Roth, 2008.

3 The State of New York City's Subsidized Housing: 2011, Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.