Fax from Albany
January 4, 2002
Board Members, Affiliate Executive Directors, Interested Parties
Joseph A. Glazer, Esq., President/CEO
(518) 434-0439 ext. 20
Happy New Year From MHANYS!
Mental Health Action Network Makes Big Noise, Big News: Kicking
off the 2002 state legislative session with a bang, a dozen member
organizations of the Mental Health Action Network held the first
major press event of the year in Albany, calling on the Governor
and the state legislature to meet the growing mental health needs
of New Yorkers in the 2002-03 state budget. The event focused on
Workforce Issues, Medicaid rate increases, restoring the Community
Mental Health Reinvestment Act and the broad impact of what mental
health funding cuts mean and will lead to down the road.
2nd press conference was collaboratively co-sponsored and/or attended
by the Association for Community Living, Citizens' Committee for
Children, the Coalition of Voluntary Agencies in Mental Health,
Families Together, the Mental Health Association in New York State,
the Mental Health Associations of Westchester and of New York City,
the Mental Health Empowerment Project, the National Alliance for
the Mentally Ill-NYS, the National Association of Social Workers-NYS,
the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services,
the New York State Association of Family Service Agencies, the New
York State Rehabilitation Association, the NYS Coalition for Children's'
Mental Health Services, the NYS Council for Community Behavioral
Healthcare, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy and United
Jewish Appeal/Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.
advocate named Kathy Breda, fighting to save her social club in
Troy, made a strong case for continued funding, and truly set the
tone of the cause and the parameters of what is at stake.
was covered by 4 statewide newspaper services, 4 local newspapers,
5 local and 2 statewide television and radio outlets and a national
mental health newsletter. A sampling of the news coverage follows
in this edition of the Friday Fax from Albany.
Text of MHANYS January 2, 2002, Press Release: With the emotional
devastation from the September 11th attacks expected to drive an
increase in mental health needs during 2002, mental health advocates
are calling on Governor Pataki to propose, and the legislature to
support, restored and increased funding as part of the 2002-03 state
years abbreviated budget process left gaping holes in existing
programs and exacerbated the growing crisis in community mental
health care. Those things must be addressed if we are to meet the
heightened needs all of our communities, said Joseph A. Glazer,
Esq., President/CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York
State, Inc. (MHANYS).
said one of the most egregious failures of the 2001 legislative
session was the death of the Community Mental Health Reinvestment
Act. In the past three decades, non-profit community providers have
become the cornerstone of New York's mental health system. "Deinstitutionalization
of individuals from state psychiatric facilities sparked the growth
of new, innovative treatment in community settingsfunded by
the landmark Community Reinvestment Act of 1993," remarked
Joseph A. Glazer, President/CEO, Mental Health Association in New
York State, Inc. The law expired on September 30, 2001.
1993, a promise was made that savings from downsizing the state
system would stay in the mental health system to enhance services
in our communities," Glazer continued. "In 2001, The Governor
and both houses of the Legislature proposed extending Reinvestment.
These proposals fell through the cracks. Without extending Reinvestment
in 2002, thousands of New Yorkers with mental health needs will
fall through the cracks as well, " Glazer concluded.
its inception, Reinvestment has moved nearly $200 million dollars
from empty state psychiatric beds into vibrant, cutting edge community
programs. Unfortunately, the state failed to fully fund the law
in several of its first years -- money that was never restored.
Because the funds flowing from Reinvestment are cumulative, the
$9 million lost because of the failure to extend Reinvestment during
2001 brings the total lost since 1994 to nearly $80 million.
than the funding boost that supported the 1999 adoption of Involuntary
Outpatient Commitment, Reinvestment has provided virtually all of
the new funding for community-based mental health services for nearly
all know the need is there. 2002 must be the year that New York
State meets the need, Glazer concluded.
Insurance Industry Interests Regulate House Leadership: As
the clock on this years Congressional session expired, House
of Representatives leadership bowed to the will of the insurance
industry lobby, and killed the proposed broad-based mental health
parity legislation. The following comes from Ralph Ipson, Vice-President
for Governmental Affairs with the National Mental Health Association.
on a roll call vote, came after truly powerful pro-parity oratory
from a string of speakers including Reps. Patrick Kennedy, David
Obey (WI), Nancy Pelosi (CA), Nita Lowey (NY), and Rosa DeLauro
(CN), culminating in remarks by Sen. Pete Domenici (who though not
a Member of the Conference Committee was in attendance with his
wife and with Senator Paul Wellstone). Following the demise of the
parity provision (ostensibly based on the notion that to pass this
legislation over the objections of authorizing Committee chairmen
would be "contrary to House procedures" (in the words
of Chairman Ralph Regula), the conferees quickly agreed to a motion
to reauthorize the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act for an additional
Republican conferees, two of whom privately acknowledged having
had their arms twisted to keep them in line, sat stone-faced at
remarks delivered before an audience of reporters and mental health
advocates. In that debate in which parity opponents were all but
silent, parity was described as an issue "critical to our morality
as a society" and "a Christmas present Members should
give themselves to heal this country after September 11th"
(Obey). Senator Domenici, speaking with extraordinary passion, described
parity as "one of the most important social and civil rights
issues in this country". He advised Members that although he
expected the measure to fail tonight, the Senate has yet to vote
on S. 543, the Domenici-Wellstone parity legislation. He vowed that
"early next year we (the Senate) will send you that bill."
And, directing emotional remarks to House Members, he exclaimed,
"I'm begging you to have a vote on it."
Billy Tauzin, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce,
has already committed to hold a hearing early next year on parity
was defeated on a straight party line vote, with the seven Democrats
on the Committee supporting the parity measure, and all ten Republicans
voting against it.
interesting to note that of the ten no votes, five were
Members of Congress that hail from states that have enacted state
parity laws. In the world of governance by insurance industry, some
elected representatives, who notably have parity-based coverage
for themselves and their families, and come from states where parity
is the law of the land, can deny non-discriminatory coverage to
the rest of the nation. For their efforts, we nominate them for
the 2001 Disingenuous Award. They are: Ernest Istook, Oklahoma;
Anne Northrup, Kentucky; Randy Cunningham, California, and Kay Granger
and Dick Armey of Texas. Congratulations on being recognized for
rising to the height of hypocrisy as our nation enters a time of
Help Support Community Connections: The Mental Health Association
in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) is beginning a fund drive for its
2002 newsletter, Community Connections, in an effort to continue
serving the mental health community. This newsletter, part of MHANYS
anti-discrimination and education effort, is provided free of charge
to over 3500 people three times per year. It is supported in part
by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) and private
hopes to further mental health education through the drive as well.
Offering two books by national award winning mental health advocates,
Ken Steele and Stuart Perry, MHANYS With a little help
from our friends campaign will provide free copies of the
books for specific giving levels.
Connections is the official newsletter published by MHANYS. It provides
perspectives on mental health concerns and their impact on the lives
of individuals. It also reports on New York State government happenings.
The newsletter also covers events affecting the workplace, schools,
and families. The articles are written by MHANYS staff, consumers
of mental health services, and outside agencies.
of the fund-raiser is to raise $21,000, to underwrite the annual
cost of producing the three issues per year. MHANYS will link with
its affiliate network, other organizations and corporate sponsorship
to raise money. MHANYS is interested in recruiting a major bookseller
in order to heighten publicity and supply books as an acknowledgement
A. Glazer, President/CEO of MHANYS comments, Community Connections
is a vital part of our education and outreach efforts. We hope that
this funding campaign, drawing on the support of our friends and
fellow advocates, will help us reach our goal as we continue to
provide and improve our newsletter."
is the author of The Day the Voices Stopped. This is a personal
account of his life and triumph over schizophrenia. Ken Steele served
as Board member and Chair of MHANYS
Government Affairs Committee before his death in October 2001.
Perry is the author of Journey for Life, which chronicles Mr. Perrys
1000 mile walk from Americus, Georgia to Chicago, Illinois. Mr.
Perrys journey was aimed at fighting stigma and discrimination
attached to living with depression.
levels are as follows: a $50 donation will receive Stuart Perrys
book, Journey For Life; a $75 donation will receive Ken Steeles
book, The Day The Voices Stopped; a $100 donation will receive both
can be made out to MHANYS, and sent to Community Connections,
c/o MHANYS, 194 Washington Avenue, Suite 415, Albany, NY 12210
information, please call Renée Benson, Acting Managing Director,
at (518) 434-0439 ext. 14.
Governor And Mrs. George E. Pataki Serve as Honorary Chairs for
Lawmakers Who Cook
of Advocacy for Mental Health, Inc. is holding its fourth annual
Lawmakers Who Cook 2002 on Monday, February 4th 2002 in the Governors
Reception Hall, the Executive Chamber, of the New York State Capitol.
The event brings together mental health advocates, elected officials
and good food for an evening unlike any other Albany event.
Who Cook is a fun event. Its proceeds support a very serious causemental
health advocacy. Lawmakers from across the state are invited to
share and serve their favorite recipes for the enjoyment of the
attendees. The preparations will be done under the close guidance
of Chef Michael LoPorto of Lo Portos Sign of the Tree restaurant.
is dedicated to supporting advocacy efforts on behalf of people
living with mental illness, mental health awareness, and advocacy
for prevention and treatment of mental illness. Through the network
of New York States Mental Health Associations, the Foundations
advocacy and education efforts serve tens of thousands of individuals
every year, from children and their families to elderly people living
alone. Together, MHAs work across the state to ensure that services
are available and accessible, and no one is in need.
LAWMAKERS WHO COOK 2002
WHERE: GOVERNORS RECEPTION HALL EXECUTIVE CHAMBER
NEW YORK STATE CAPITOL BUILDING
WHEN: Monday, February 4, 2002 6 8 PM
COST: $100 Honorary Level
$75 Event Level
$50 General Admission
MORE INFORMATION: Judith Burgess, Director of Development, (518)
434-0439 ext. 31, or email email@example.com
In the News: A sampling of articles from the Mental Health
Action Network Press Conference follows.
season' for lobbying begins in post-Sept. 11 Albany
By MICHAEL GORMLEY Associated Press Writer January 2, 2002
N.Y. -- "The season" has begun again in Albany.
paid lobbyists, volunteer advocates and individuals in need began
their annual bid to influence lawmakers to fund their causes Wednesday.
press conferences and demonstrations will be scheduled daily building
the April 1 start of the next fiscal year, and continue afterward
lawmakers, as usual, continue to haggle for months more.
a dozen advocates seeking greater state funding of programs for
the mentally ill and the workers who serve them kicked off the season.
attracted television, radio and newspaper reporters from 10 news
organizations crammed into a room in the Legislative Office Building.
to what appears to be the beginning of the 2002-03 budget cycle,"
said Joseph Glazer of the Mental Health Association in New York
stay to the bloody end."
budget cycle is really a continuation of the 2001-02 budget.
The state Legislature in August approved a "baseline budget"
designed to get
Gov. George Pataki to negotiate greater spending that all sides
after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, there was little money left
appropriate. Groups which provide services to the mentally ill and
not-for-profit agencies got a nominal increase in funding in October.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon
Silver all agree the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2002, will be
a time for
further belt tightening.
year's budget promises were not kept. Now, with the tragedy of Sept.
11, the needs are even greater," said J. David Seay of the
for the Mentally Ill in New York State.
for the mentally ill on Wednesday sought state funding to boost
salaries--many of the jobs pay $16,000 a year or less--to reverse
a crisis in
turnover. They also sought increased fees to providers paid by Medicaid
reinvestment of unused funding in some areas to increase funds for
many of the groups that will follow them to the capital, the mental
health advocates provided a face for their cause Wednesday.
Breda, who is being treated for depression and had been diagnosed
a personality disorder and compulsive behavior, said she spent Tuesday
nervous and crying as she worried about her debut in front of television
cameras and reporters.
said the cause of saving funding for the Fifth Avenue Club, a
psychiatric rehabilitation center she frequents in Troy, gave her
She said a lack of state funding next week will close the facility,
in the heart of Bruno's legislative district.
helps people stay out of hospitals," she said. "A lot
of the people who
could come to talk about this today can't because they work now
... I do pray
that other people in the state don't have to face what we face."
know the annual pleas and media exposure make for a tight fiscal
line to walk.
have to deliver services to the public," Bruno told radio station
in Albany Wednesday. "That takes money. It takes people."
a Republican, said the state is a stronger position than ever to
handle adversity with what has been the largest "rainy day"
surplus in state
history over recent years.
"we not only had a rainy day, we had a hurricane," Bruno
are difficult, but we've prepared for these times and we're prepared
govern in these tough times."
said he'll wait, along with groups like the advocates for the mentally
ill, for the next major steps in the season before he comments on
Pataki plans his State of the State address Jan. 9 and to release
executive budget proposal a week later.
Funds sought to save mental health system
Advocates say Sept. 11 has pushed state services into a crisis
By ELIZABETH BENJAMIN, Albany Times Union Capitol bureau January
mental health system is stressed out in the aftermath of the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks, advocates warned Wednesday, and failure to
funding could cause a breakdown among agencies that provide counseling
other services to a growing number of people statewide.
was already stretched thin by a steady decrease in state dollars,
staffing shortages and a high employee turnover rate over the past
advocates say. Sept. 11 has pushed it close to a breaking point.
York's mental health needs have never been greater,'' said Harvey
Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric
Rehabilitation Services. "This is the time to bolster our mental
services, not gut them.''
warned of service cutbacks and closings if the state does not
infuse money into the mental health system. In a news conference,
on Gov. George Pataki to address this "crisis'' in his State
of the State
address and budget proposal on Wednesday.
Budget Division spokesman Kevin Quinn said the governor "will
to be a strong ally and advocate for New Yorkers with mental illness
keeping in mind the fiscal challenges the state faces.'' Pataki,
sputtering national economy and a potential $9 billion revenue shortfall
the next two years, has repeatedly warned of budget cuts in his
Office of Mental Health has received about $26 million in federal
funding to provide crisis counseling to meet the recent rise in
that money is earmarked for specific programs and agencies and cannot
to shore up the existing mental health system.
said they hope the governor repeats some of the proposals he made
last year but the state Legislature did not adopt.
2001-02 budget, Pataki proposed giving nonprofit community mental
health workers an annual 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise for three
funded partly with the savings from the closure of several state
facilities. He also suggested a 10 percent Medicaid fee increase
pressure from their constituents, however, lawmakers blocked the
hospital closures, and the governor's proposals were left out of
bare-bones budget approved by the Legislature in August. The final
plan included $40 million less for mental health programs, Rosenthal
also failed to extend the 1993 Community Reinvestment Act, which
diverted money saved from eliminating state psychiatric hospital
beds to the
community-based mental health system. The act, which expired this
become almost the sole source of new funding for community mental
agencies, and brought more than $200 million into the system, according
Joseph Glazer, executive director of the Mental Health Association
As state hospitals closed since the 1970s, community based mental
agencies shouldered much of the responsibility for treating mentally
Yorkers. But as a result of being unable to provide cost-of-living
increases for already low-paying jobs, agencies are facing an unprecedented
the average turnover rate among direct mental health staff averaged
between 37 percent and 54 percent, according to a statewide survey
by the New
York State Council of Community Behavioral Healthcare and the Coalition
Voluntary Mental Health Agencies. Entry-level staff earn between
$18,000 a year; new social workers with master's degrees may start
key to good services is hiring and keeping talented mental health
workers,'' said Gayle Farman, the council's executive director.
workers, she said, often earn less than their clients, who receive
security and disability benefits, housing assistance and food stamps.
lack of funds has forced some programs to curtail services or close
altogether. The Fifth Avenue Club in Troy, a 22-year-old psychiatric
rehabilitation center that offers activities and job training for
ill adults, will close next week due to a $140,000 shortfall.
is not a new problem; the program has been shrinking, shrinking,
shrinking,'' said Chris Burke, executive director of Unity House,
state-funded nonprofit agency that runs the club. "We're down
to four staff.
In the early 1990s, the club had 12.''
Breda, a 46-year-old Troy resident who has been using the club's
program for more than 20 years, credited it with helping her overcome
depression. She now works part time at Unity House, putting the
skills she learned at the club to use.
lot of people who would have come here today couldn't because they
now,'' Breda said at Wednesday's news conference.
is located in the district of the influential Senate majority
leader, Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick. Spokesman John McArdle said Bruno
of the importance of mental health services and their fiscal difficulties,
but was not hopeful much could be done to keep the club.
money's just not there,'' McArdle said.
Until next time, we remain,
Working to ensure available and accessible mental health services
for all New Yorkers.