News Release Details Advocates' Support of Reconfiguration Plan

NYAPRS Note: Below, please see a news release related to this afternoon’s press conference regarding the RCE plan. Mental Health advocates gathered at the Capitol to express our support of new measures to provide appropriate reinvestment for community based, recovery oriented services. A strong commitment to outreach and engagement, family support, and peer inclusion must be met with resources that prepare our service system for hospital reconfiguration. There was strong media interest in this point of view, which we will detail in tomorrow’s enews; it is time for the conversation to shift toward the prioritization of our community member’s needs


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Mental Health Advocates Back ‘Landmark’

State Mental Health Services Reconfiguration Plan


Contact: Harvey Rosenthal, NYAPRS, 518-527-0564; Glenn Liebman, MHANYS, 518-360-7916


Representatives from leading statewide mental health advocacy groups joined in Albany today to express strong support for the Administration’s proposal to reconfigure state mental health services by redeploying state staff to critically needed outpatient roles and reinvesting savings from facility downsizing to expand and improve locally focused mental health services and supports.


If implemented, the plan will reinvest up to $72 million of savings over the next 3 years that will be used to improve current services and to extend help to an estimated 7,000 more individuals and families in need. The $72 million is comprised of the value of redeployed state employees and savings that will be used to infuse local nonprofit systems.


“This landmark proposal will retrain and redeploy experienced state workers to community settings where they’re needed the most,” said Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. “At the same time, it will infuse local systems of care by creating hundreds of new positions in the nonprofit sector.”


Over time, the proposal will take New York from 24 to 15 state psychiatric facilities, which will still be almost two to three times more than other states. It will give special attention to boosting services in areas where hospitals close or are consolidated, funding a broad array of prevention, wellness, walk-in urgent care, crisis and family support services.


The advocates were particularly supportive for the proposal’s commitment to front out up to $25 million in the next year’s budget to boost community services in advance of the closures.


“We are very appreciative that funding will be made available in next year’s budget to expand services in preparation for those individuals who will be leaving hospitals as well as for those individuals already living in the community,” said Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State.


Advocacy groups representing families of young adults and teens hailed the proposal. “Families are thrilled to know that there will be an investment in the types of community based services they need that will keep their children at home and out of expensive hospitalizations,” said Paige Pierce, executive director of Families Together of New York State.


Groups representing community agencies and hospitals welcomed the initiative, which they said will maximize the use of state resources and make New York a national leader.


“The New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare strongly supports state action to ‘right size’ the state's psychiatric hospital system,” said NYSCCBH executive director Lauri Cole. “New Yorkers challenged with serious mental illnesses deserve nothing less than our best efforts to provide safe, effective, lower cost community-based solutions to address the challenges they face each day.”


The proposed $72 million state hospital reinvestment fund is expected to be part of a larger state investment in community mental health services, joining reinvestment of savings from reduced use of Medicaid inpatient and clinic settings and increased support for community housing.


“We are very pleased with the plan’s commitment to a downstate supported housing rent increase and the reinvestment of Medicaid resources and expansion of crisis and respite beds,” said Phillip Saperia, executive director of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies.


Housing groups praised the proposal. "ACL and its members are committed to the principle that the vast majority of people with psychiatric disabilities can and should live in their communities with professional and natural supports,” said Toni Lasicki, executive director of the Association for Community Living.


The proposal to move resources and people from hospitals to the community is also joined by one that will fund transitional and community supports for current residents of adult and nursing homes, in compliance with federal law.


“These recommendations align with the State’s recently released Olmstead Implementation Plan, providing specific action steps to transition people with disabilities out of segregated settings and into community settings, said Lindsay Miller, executive director of the New York Association on Independent Living.


The recommendations were crafted by a several month process that involved regional stakeholder groups. “We are especially appreciative of the fact that there has been significant stakeholder input and community engagement in the development of this plan,” said Pierce.

“The collaboration among those of us in the Regional Centers of Excellence groups has been excellent,” said Joseph Woodward, executive director of Housing Options Made Easy and one of Western New York’s group leaders.


The groups saw the proposal as a ‘win win’ for New Yorkers. “Such investments have been proven to improve the care and quality of life for New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities, revitalize communities with housing and jobs, and save taxpayer dollars,” said Ted Houghton, executive director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “The Governor’s plan serves the interest of all New Yorkers -- tenants and taxpayers alike.”


The advocates urged for prompt movement. There is no reason to wait to implement this groundbreaking Plan,” said Cole.