On Monday, March 13th, people from all over New York State who
are interested in shaping New York’s public policies, as
they effect people living with mental illness, will gather in
Albany for MHANYS Legislative Conference. Starting at 9:00, attendees
will be afforded the opportunity to participate in the legislative
process, get the opportunity hear from the state’s top mental
health policy makers, and meet with their elected representatives.
The event will take place in “The Well” of the Legislative
Office Building in Albany. A light breakfast will be served. Directions
discussed and supported will include all issues on MHANYS’
2006 Legislative Agenda:
Health insurance policies continue to discriminate against those
living with mental health and addiction needs by limiting coverage
and charging significantly higher co-payments to access such treatment
and services. Inadequate treatment for mental health and addiction
disorders costs the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars
each year. Coverage and co-payments for mental health and addiction
services should be the same as it is for other health services.
Pass Timothy’s Law - A.2912 (Tonko) / S.6735 (Duane)
The lack of available and affordable housing for people with mental
health needs is prevalent in urban, suburban and rural communities
throughout New York State. Many New Yorkers could transition to
much less restrictive and less expensive alternatives if such
options were made available. The priority populations for transition
include homeless individuals and those in homeless shelters, those
who currently live in adult homes in deplorable conditions, individuals
with psychiatric disabilities living at home with aging parents,
and individuals transitioning from the criminal justice system.
Additional capacity in existing housing models, and development
of new housing models, are necessary especially for these identified
priority populations. The recently enacted NY/NY III agreement,
which will provide housing options for thousands of homeless New
York City residents, many with mental health needs, is an excellent
step toward addressing the housing need for this population of
1) Provide additional resources for the development of alternative
housing options for people with mental health needs and for assistance
to help people with mental illness afford housing; 2) Replicate
the NY/NY III agreement, statewide, to address the needs of those
with psychiatric disabilities.
Confinement of Sexual Offenders
While the state should take steps to prevent sexual offenses from
taking place and treat those who offend so that they will not
offend again, efforts to place such offendersinto psychiatric
centers after their release from the criminal justice system isa
misuse of thestate’s mental health system. Such proposals
would create huge safety risks for existing psychiatric center
patients, sap desperately needed resources from mental health
treatment and services in future years, and further stigmatize
those attempting to recover from mental illness.
Ensure the public’s safety from sexual offenders by adopting
the recommendations of the professionals in sex offender management
– sex offender treatment providers – 1) to provide
treatment to all offenders, 2) establish prevention programs and
3) provide intense supervision for most likely to re-offend. Such
programs should be the responsibility of a separate state agency,
other than the Office of Mental Health. This would avoid any safety
risks associated with co-mingling, ensure that resources are not
diverted from programs and services for people with mental illness,
and prevent further stigmatization of people with psychiatric
$10M Increase for Community-Based Providers: Over the
past decade, community mental health providers have seen little-to-no
funding increases, and have even weathered multiple funding cuts,
placing them in a position where they are unable to cover increasing
operating expenses related to property, personnel, insurance,
and energy costs. Without additional resources to accommodate
these increased costs, mental health programs will be unable to
meet the existing need and maintain the quality of programs provided
by a dedicated workforce.
Mental Health Act: Enacted into law in 2005, funding must
now be provided to develop pilot programs designed to address
the increasing mental health needs of the aging population of
$10M Increase for Community-Based Providers: While the
2.5% Cost of Living Adjustment provided in the Governor’s
budget proposal is greatly appreciated, a $10M increase in funding
is necessary to prevent community mental health providers from
further scaling programs back or closing programs altogether.
Mental Health Act: Annualized $5M for pilot programs
to Services and Treatment
Ensuring that individuals living with mental illness have access
to services and treatments is an essential component of achieving
recovery from mental illness. While well-intentioned, many government
proposals and actions effectively restrict access to the services
and treatments that allow individuals living with mental health
needs to remain healthy and stable, especially with regard to
Part D: Of particular concern are the difficulties individuals
on both Medicaid and Medicare (dual eligibles) are facing attempting
to get the medications they need to remain healthy and stable
under the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (Medicare Part
Drug Program: In addition, the Governor’s budget proposal
calls for elimination of safeguards that allow the doctor to make
the final decision about which medications a patient gets, and
the consideration of cost in determining which drugs become ‘preferred’
(which would certainly impact the rather expensive mental health
drugs) under Medicaid’s Preferred Drug Program.
Medicare Part D: 1) Provide permanent “wrap around”
Medicaid coverage for dual eligibles unable to get their medications
from their Medicare Part D plan; 2) Cover co-payments for those
dual eligibles unable to afford the now-mandatory co-payments
required by Medicare Part D
Drug Program: 1) Reject the Governor’s proposal to eliminate
the “physician prevailing” language from Medicaid’s
Preferred Drug Program; 2) Reject the Governor’s proposal
that would allow cost to be used as a consideration of which drugs
are deemed “preferred.”
Individuals with serious psychiatric disabilities have difficulty
transitioning from school to the adult mental health system, and
must have a strength-based, individual-centered assessment that
identifies choices regarding education and employment. There must
be greater emphasis on post-school outcomes including an emphasis
on research-based practices.
1) Provide an additional $500,000 for case managers who will help
with the transition of young adults from high school to the adult
mental health system; 2) Allocate $500,000 for supported employment
programs to help make this transition more successful, and; 3)
Allocate $500,000 for demonstration projects that will fund 2
drop-in centers for individuals 18-25 with psychiatric disabilities.
the North: Take Interstate 87 (Northway) to Interstate 90 (East),
proceed east to Interstate 787 (South) and take the Empire Plaza
the South: Take New York State Thruway (Interstate 87) to Exit
23 - straight through Toll Booth to Interstate 787 (North). Take
Empire Plaza exit.
the East: Take Interstate 90 and cross Hudson River. Take exit
to Interstate 787 (South). Take Empire Plaza exit.
the West: Take the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) to Exit
24, proceed on Interstate 90 (East) to Interstate 787 (South).
Take Empire Plaza Exit.
Legislative Office Building is located on the corner of Swan and
State streets, across State Street from the NYS Capitol (not specifically
marked on the map above). Access to the Legislative Office Building
is from two locations. First is from the underground Concourse
that runs the length of the Empire State Plaza, from the Capitol
to the Museum/Libraray/Archives, which brings you into the Legislative
Office Building on the 1st floor. Second is from State street,
which brings you into the Legislative Office Building on the 3rd
floor. “The Well”, where MHANYS’ Legislative
Conference will take place, is the open area on the first floor
of the Legislative Office Building.
a map of selected visitor parking areas in and around the
Empire State Plaza.
York Puts Mental Patients in Homes Illegally, Groups Say.
By Richard Perez-Pena
The New York Times, March 8, 2006
York State regularly sends patients from mental hospitals to nursing
homes, where it illegally houses hundreds of them without the
care they need and often under conditions that approach imprisonment,
according to legal groups designated by the state to represent
groups said they would file a lawsuit today in Federal District
Court in Brooklyn, accusing New York State of violating several
federal laws and claiming that many of the mentally ill patients
who have been moved from state psychiatric hospitals into the
nursing homes should instead be back in their own neighborhoods,
living independently but with government help.
groups say that they have talked with the Pataki administration
for years, seeking to end the practice, but that the problem has
worsened. They say more than 1,000 former psychiatric patients
could now be in nursing homes in New York and New Jersey. They
charge that 500 to 600 are in two New Jersey homes alone, nearly
twice as many as in 2002 when the practice first came to light.
groups charge that the nursing homes do little more than medicate
the mentally ill residents and do not adequately provide the services
that the state is legally required to offer — treatment
by psychiatrists and social workers, and training in everyday
skills like shopping and cooking. The mentally ill residents,
who have not been declared a threat to themselves or others, are
generally not allowed to leave the nursing homes and in many cases
are even restricted to their floors most of the day, the groups
state is warehousing people in nursing homes who don't need nursing
home care, and not providing the services that they do need,"
said Cliff Zucker, executive director of Disability Advocates
Inc., one of the groups filing the suit. Those who are sent out
of state, he said, are isolated from family and other sources
Daniels, a spokeswoman for the state's Office of Mental Health,
which runs the psychiatric hospitals, said the patients were being
properly discharged to nursing homes, and that the state was following
federal guidelines about doing so. She said they were all screened
and deemed in need of nursing home care. And she said the residents
were receiving proper "clinical treatment."
suit does not accuse the nursing homes of wrongdoing, but it draws
a disturbing picture of life there for the patients, arguing that
the homes are simply not equipped to handle them. It says that
one plaintiff, Bradley W. — the suit does not use full names
to protect patients' privacy — was discharged last year
from Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg, N.Y., to a nursing
home in New Jersey, "and is required to wear an electronic
wristband on his wrist that would signal an alarm if he tried
T. "is permitted to leave the floor and go outside only at
designated times to smoke and to play basketball," it says,
and Lisa H. is not allowed to go to her church. "Carlos S.
sees the psychiatrist once per month, for medication purposes
Gov. George E. Pataki, the state has cut the population of its
psychiatric hospitals by more than half, to about 4,000, in part
to save money. Throughout that effort, people who work with the
mentally ill have complained that for many of those patients,
the state did not provide the right alternatives to hospitalization.
state has placed thousands of people in large adult homes where,
The New York Times reported in 2002, many were merely warehoused,
neglected and even abused.
and lawyers and other professionals working on their behalf contend
that the ideal setting for many people released from mental hospitals
is "community-based housing" — either small group
residences or individual apartments — paid for by the state,
with an array of support services and a high degree of independence.
But for years, the Pataki administration discharged people from
hospitals much faster than it added community housing.
the last three years, the state committed itself to increasing
this housing by several thousand units, but the demand still far
exceeds the supply.
the last decade, the state has also sent large numbers of people
from mental hospitals to nursing homes, and it has been accused
of doing so as a way to save money.
state, for instance, pays the entire cost of community housing
for the mentally ill, but when those people are instead placed
in nursing homes, the costs are paid by Medicaid, and thus split
among the federal government, the state and local governments.
A. Bearden, a lawyer for Disability Advocates, said, "In
discharge papers, the clinical reason given time and time again
for sending them to the nursing homes is 'medication management,'
which is and can be performed in the community."
Advocates is one of several nonprofit legal groups named by the
state, under a federal grant program, to represent people with
disabilities. Another group with that same state designation,
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, is helping represent
the plaintiffs in the suit. One of the plaintiffs in the case
is Sidney Hirschfeld, director of one of four Mental Hygiene Legal
Service offices that are part of the state court system, created
by state law to do similar work for the mentally ill.
suit accuses New York State of violating the Americans With Disabilities
Act, a 1990 federal law, by unnecessarily segregating mental patients
from the population at large and preventing them from taking advantage
of other government services.
The Times reported in 2002 that New York had placed hundreds
of former psychiatric patients in nursing homes in New Jersey,
Gov. James E. McGreevey, the New Jersey governor then and other
New Jersey officials protested the practice and said they were
unaware that the practice was so common. They dropped the matter
the next year, saying that they had found nothing inappropriate
about the practice, and had concluded that it did not cost New
Jersey any money.
suit focuses primarily on the two large New Jersey homes, Andover
Subacute and Rehabilitation Center II, in Sussex County, and Lincoln
Park Care Center, in Morris County, but it also names nine others
in Queens, mostly on the Rockaway Peninsula.