A broad coalition of community based providers (including MHANYS) is urging
support for a one time infusion of $169 million for retention of the
community based provider workforce. This is an unprecedented time to
utilize this funding given the proceeds of the sale of Fidelis to
Centene. We are very appreciative of the Governor and Legislature
supporting the direct care funding increase in behavioral health and
developmental disabilities last year, but clearly much more needs to be
done to retain and recruit quality staff. It is by far the number one issue
that our members talk about and I am sure this is true in virtually every
community based human services agency. This one time workforce funding
would be greatly appreciated and necessary given the need for a living
wage for those whose job is to help insure the safety and recovery of some
of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Great leadership on this issue by
Lauri Cole of NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and Andrea
Smyth of NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health.

We will also be advocating that this year’s budget include a 2.9% CPI based
COLA across the entire human services sector. We will be sharing much more
advocacy information about this in the coming weeks.


Behavioral health, home-care providers want piece of Fidelis windfall

A group of associations representing community-based providers, including
health centers, behavioral health nonprofits and home-care agencies, are
calling on the state to set aside some of the $2 billion received from the
sale of Fidelis Care to invest in its workforce.

The Cuomo administration increased the operating component of
inpatient Medicaid rates to hospitals by 2% and nursing homes by 1.5%,
effective Nov. 1, using $675 million from the money the state received as
part of the $3.75 billion sale of Fidelis to Centene.

The provider groups said they should receive at least 25% of that
total—$169 million—to use for retention bonuses and training, which would
help reduce worker turnover and improve the quality of care.

As the state has encouraged more health care to be provided in community
settings, money should follow those policies, said Lauri Cole, executive
director of the NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. She noted
that mental health and substance-use providers are on the front lines
addressing rising death rates from drug overdoses and suicides.

“When the state finds itself in the position with this money, the
community-based side of the workforce finds itself more often than not
receiving a pittance of what the hospital and institutional settings wind
up with,” Cole said.

A spokesman for the state Division of the Budget did not immediately
respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon. The state provided
funding for a 6.5% salary increase for direct-care workers this year.

Without more funding, the nonprofits can’t retain workers and risk losing
them to hospitals, government agencies and even other industries, such as
food service, because of the state’s rising minimum wage, said Harvey
Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric
Rehabilitation Services.

“If we have constant turnover, these relationships are constantly
disrupted, and it really compromises our ability to serve folks who are
difficult to engage,” he said.

The 11 groups calling for funding are the New York State Council for
Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Home Care Association of New York
State, the Community Health Care Association of New York State, the Mental
Health Association of New York State, the Association for Community Living,
the NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health, the New York
Association for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, the Hospice and
Palliative Care Association of New York State, the Coalition for Behavioral
Health, the NYS Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers and
the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies. —Jonathan LaMantia

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