NYAPRS State Budget Advocacy - Two Weeks Left

NYAPRS NOTE:  As you all may know, we are in the last two weeks of this year’s NYS budget session, so these are crunch weeks for our advocacy efforts. NYAPRS is carrying an especially large number of issues. We may be asking you all to join us in our combined efforts via email, phone and social media based advocacy. We will keep you keep them regularly informed.

To:            NYAPRS Members and Friends

From:        Elena Kravitz, Harvey Rosenthal

From:         NYAPRS State Budget Advocacy for the week of March 19

As we’re heading into what is expected to be the last 2 weeks of this year’s NYS budget session, we are working hard to advance our members’ respective positions. Here’s the latest from Albany on issues we featured at our February 27th Legislative Day and some that have come to the forefront since.

Housing Rate Hike: The Senate has added a $5 million increase that’s in addition to the $10 million offered by the Governor. Elena will be meeting tomorrow morning with our colleagues in the Bring it Home campaign and will join ACL in working to see that these funds are considered a down payment on sums that are, when annualized, 4 times these amounts.

Community Workforce Increase: The Senate has proposed a state budget commitment for next year and the 3 following ones for several more rounds of a 3.25% increase for direct care staff and direct support professionals and clinical staff beginning. These would take effect “beginning 4/1/19 and an additional annual increase of 3.25% for the same positions in 4/1/20, 4/1/21 and 4/1/22.” Elena is meeting today with an advocacy coalition headed up by MHANYS to push these forward with the Assembly and the Governor.

HALT bill: This measure to ban solitary confinement for vulnerable groups including people with mental health conditions has moved to the Assembly Ways & Means committee on its way to what is expected to be passage by the full Assembly. The bill remains in the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections committee. Elena joined our friends in the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement to press for movement of the bills.

Crisis Intervention Teams/Diversion: The Senate has proposed another increase of $500,000 while the Assembly is adding another $1 million.

Adult Home Residents’ Personal Needs Allowance Hike: The Senate proposed a $20 million to increase the state Supplemental Security Income (SSI) share allowance for Adult Care Facilities. Accordingly, NYAPRS and our colleagues in the NYS Coalition for Adult Home Reform are pushing for a much needed and fair $2.9 million PNA increase for the 13,000 SSI recipients living in adult homes. Harvey will be in touch with the Governor’s office later today about this.

Community Reinvestment Funding: Thankfully, there’s no legislative opposition to the Governor’s plan to reinvest $11 million in funds derived from state hospital downsizing into community recovery service expansion.

Practice Requirements for the Community Workforce: Budget proposals released by both the Senate and Assembly would undermine OMH funded community services by creating more red tape in a system that is already well monitored and driven by best practices. NYAPRS is working with a coalition of colleague groups to let our legislative leaders that we support the Governor’s proposal to extend mental health practice exemptions from education law that would otherwise significantly constrain non social worker practitioners.

Health Homes $100 Million Cut: The Senate has proposed a cut that would total $200 million (when federal Medicaid share is included), that would drastically threaten efforts to better integrate and coordinate care for over thousands of New Yorkers with multiple ongoing health conditions, including mental health conditions. NYAPRS fears that the pathway to community and recovery based home and community based services will be all but closed if this cut is allowed to stand. We are joining our friends at both the Health Home and Care Management Associations to send letters and hold meeting with key Senate officials and health home members this week.

Behavioral Health Ombuds Program: NYAPRS is a member of a coalition headed up by the Legal Action Center to establish a behavioral health ombuds function to help educate consumers and providers about insurance coverage requirements under Federal and State law and to assist them with denials of coverage, especially as regards to the enforcement of mental health parity laws. Both houses are supportive and the Assembly has put up $1.5 million.

Disability Funding Issues: NYAPRS is very supportive of proposals to increase funds for Independent Living Centers and the Access to Home program, as well as to the Office of the Advocate for the Disabled.