DC FY18 Budget and What It Means for Behavioral Healthcare and Public Care

from the DC Behavioral Health Association Newsletter, June 27, 2017  | www.DCBehavioralHealth.org


DC Council FY 2018 Budget
$2.9 million included in the Health Committee markup to support a rate increase, pending conclusion of the anticipated rate study, was included in the final FY 2018 budget approved by the DC Council. Without these funds, even if the rate study showed favorable results, rates would have been unlikely to increase until the beginning of FY 2019, in October 2019. We hope these funds will make changes easier pending the rate study.


Fair Budget Coalition
As a member of the Fair Budget Coalition, the DC Behavioral Health Association (DCBHA) has closely followed the coalition’s recommendations for the DC FY 2018 budget. Fair Budget Coalition’s analysis of the final budget passed by the DC Council is as follows:

The good: Despite what you’ve been following on twitter, there really are some great things in this budget!

  • $40 million in start-up funding for Paid Family Leave
  • $2 million in transportation subsidies for adult learners
  • The elimination of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) time limit
  • A mostly funded Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act
  • $19 million for repairs for public housing
  • An increase in the reimbursement rate for Mental Health Rehabilitation Services and Adult Substance Abuse Rehabilitative Services
  • Housing subsidies for 459 chronically homeless singles and 340 families
  • Fully funded Produce Plus, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and money for a cooperative grocery store in Ward 8
  • A fully funded Fair Criminal Records Screening Act

These are big wins to be celebrated- again — thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make all of this possible. 

The Bad:  We know these housing resources do not come even remotely close to meeting the need for people who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability. For the 2nd year in a row, there are zero vouchers available to move the 40,000 people off of the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) waiting list. There are huge gaps in the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) plan to end homelessness. Limited Project/Sponsor based Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) vouchers will make it difficult to build more units for extremely low income people. The Trust Fund is not fully addressing the affordable housing crisis in the city. 

The Alliance program re-certification will still be burdensome, there is still only one air monitoring station around the city, and the Language Access for Education Amendment Act has still not been funded. 

The Ugly:  In a final (and valiant) effort to fund some of these gaps, Council member David Grosso introduced two amendments that would have:

  • Kept the threshold of the estate tax at $2M
  • Limit the business tax cut to businesses that earn $10M or less in profit.

Taking Time Off for Mental Health: Tips from HR

One of the more important roles Human Resources plays in supporting employees is creating a stress free process for seeking time off to address mental health needs. 

With limited sick time and high demands at work many organizations don’t make it easy or comfortable for employees to take time off. Sure, many organizations offer health insurance that provides mental health coverage, but with limited evening and weekend appointments available in the mental health community working professionals are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Taking time off from work, the very work that may be contributing to the decline in your mental state, can add an immeasurable amount of stress and anxiety. 

Don’t lose hope! In addition to employment laws in place to provide job protection for medical leave, here are some tips to help navigate taking time off from work to see a mental health professional.

1.    Family Medical Leave Act, better known as FMLA.
The FMLA was enacted to provide job protection to employees who needed time off of work to manage serious health conditions for themselves, and/or family members for whom they were responsible. 

Employees are not expected to know whether or not FMLA applies to their organization, but  they should. The FMLA applies to worksites that have 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Even if an organization qualifies to adhere to the FMLA employees must have worked for the organization for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months to qualify for leave under this federal law. The one caveat to qualifying under the terms listed would be that many states like the District of Columbia have their own FMLA policy that organizations must adhere to in lieu of the federal guidelines outlined here.  

A serious health condition defined: 1) inpatient medical care; 2) pregnancy or prenatal care; 3) a health condition lasting three consecutive days coupled with on-going treatment by a healthcare provider; 4) a chronic, serious condition such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy for which the person is under supervision by a healthcare provider; 5) any period of absence for multiple treatments such as chemotherapy or kidney dialysis; or 6) a permanent long-term condition for which treatment may not be effective. 

Depending on the severity of your mental health needs item # 3 on the list above would be the most appropriate for addressing time off to see a mental health professional. The best way to determine if you qualify is to sit down with someone in the human resources department. Be prepared to provide supporting medical documentation during the process, which is required by law. 

2. Do your homework. 
It’s up to you to find the best fit when it comes to selecting a mental health professional. Sometimes the right fit starts with schedule availability.

Most health insurance companies offer the ability to search online for in network providers based on availability, such as weekend appointments. You can also call your health insurance provider and ask the representative to conduct a search on your behalf. The results are usually emailed or faxed to you by the representative. 

Another option is to go out of network. Plans that have an out of network option will allow you to see any mental health professional, in most cases. Yes, it is at a higher upfront financial cost, but the long terms results will be worth it. 

3. Sick and Vacation Leave. 
If you don’t qualify for the FMLA you should consider using any accrued leave. Following your organization’s policies regarding scheduling the leave can help ease the stress and anxiety around taking time off from work.

Always remember that nothing gets done without you, when it concerns you. Taking care of your mental health needs is no different than a trip to the chiropractor for an adjustment or your annual health check-up. Keeping you healthy and well is a team effort. 

Saná Rasul, ACC, PHR, SHRM-CP, Director of Human Resources, McClendon Center. In addition to leading the human resource functions at the Center, Ms. Rasul runs a for-profit association, HR Girlfriends, which supports the professional and personal development of female HR practitioners

Make a Gift, Get a Gift

For a limited time, if you donate $25 (or more), we’ll send you a set of note cards as our appreciation.

The artwork on the note cards were created by our clients who exhibited their pieces at our Art of Transformation event. Each package contains one of each design pictured. 

DONATE NOW to make your gift online.

Or, if you prefer, please send your gift to:
   McClendon Center
   Attn: Development
   1313 New York Avenue, NW
   Washington, DC 20005

McClendon Center Client Participates in today’s USA TODAY Facebook Live discussion

Earlier today, USA TODAY hosted a Facebook Live discussion about the GOP health plan and its effects on mental health and addiction progress. Linda Rosenberg, CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health and Samuel Hedgepeth, a McClendon Center client, addressed how “the House Republicans’ Affordable Care Act replacement placement plan would dramatically change who is eligible for free or low-cost health coverage, which critics fear could drastically slash mental health and addiction coverage, which many people got for the first time under the law.” Click on USA TODAY for the full article.

Please note: The sound quality at the beginning is rough (static or no sound) but picks up after a minute or so).


2017 Art of Transformation – Act Now!

We’re so excited to be hosting this year’s Art of Transformation client art show & reception at Capitol at 400, a roof-top venue with spectacular views of our nation’s capital. 

Your support of  this event is so important to our clients, especially those who use art as a therapeutic tool. In addition to raising critical funds for our arts therapy and other programs, your ticket purchase, sponsorship, and/or gift will help us cover the costs of our meal program for our Day Program participants.

Please don’t wait until the last minute! CLICK HERE to buy your ticket or sponsorship, help sponsor a client to attend the event, or make your gift today. 

McClendon Center Receives $5,000 MAXIMUS Foundation Grant

We are proud to have been selected by the MAXIMUS Foundation to receive a $5,000 grant in support of our programs and services for our community members with mental illness. Over 2,000 men and women come to McClendon Center – all of whom are working toward achieving their highest degree of mental health recovery and independence.

“I’m honored to recognize McClendon Center with this MAXIMUS Foundation grant for its tireless work to promote self-sufficiency and personal growth that empowers families in the local community,” said John Boyer, Chairman of the MAXIMUS Foundation. “McClendon Center’s commitment to enhancing health outcomes and family and community development – while implementing innovative programs and services – continues to inspire the MAXIMUS Foundation. We look forward to seeing more of McClendon Center work in the future as they serve the community.”

With more than 23,000 adults with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) living in our nation’s capital, the need to provide mental health services is clear. In addition to SMI, many of our clients have, or at risk for, at least one co-occurring chronic health condition (e.g., diabetes, asthma, heart disease, etc.). Demographically, a majority live well below the DC poverty line, 88% are African-American, and nearly 30% are homeless. We provide our clients with the treatment and care that improves their quality of life, reducing the risk of hospitalizations and incarceration. In the end, the broader DC community benefits from filling a void in available mental health treatment. While our primary revenue comes from Medicaid reimbursement for clinical services, other crucial but “medically non-essential” assistance and programs must be covered by other sources of funding. This grant from MAXIMUS FOUNDATION is invaluable and will help to defray the costs of our support services.



About MAXIMUS: Since 1975, MAXIMUS has operated under its founding mission of Helping Government Serve the People®, enabling citizens around the globe to successfully engage with their governments at all levels and across a variety of health and human services programs. MAXIMUS delivers innovative business process management and technology solutions that contribute to improved outcomes for citizens and higher levels of productivity, accuracy, accountability and efficiency of government-sponsored programs. For more information, visit www.maximus.com.

About the MAXIMUS Foundation: As the philanthropic arm of MAXIMUS, the Foundation extends the mission of the Company by identifying and awarding grants to partners with specialized expertise to deliver results within the same populations and communities served by the public programs the Company operates. The MAXIMUS Foundation is completely funded by MAXIMUS and its employees, and provides grants to local community organizations with programs and projects in the areas of child and youth development, health and community development.

What is the price tag for quality and compassion?

The problems with funding for mental and behavioral healthcare is not new to District of Columbia; but, this year, the effects are overwhelming. By the end of September, McClendon Center will experience a shortfall of over $100,000 due to the Department of Behavioral Health cutting off funding for uninsured clients.  This problem appears to be system-wide at this point, threatening the notion that we — as providers — form the public safety net for District residents with serious mental illness.  When it became apparent that there was a funding issue several months ago, we as a Center decided there were three basic courses of action.  The first was to transfer these uninsured clients back to the Department of Behavioral Health and hope they could find an agency that was sufficiently funded.  (The question then would be, why would McClendon Center — as the District’s highest-performing agency — not receive funding when a lower-performing agency had).  The second course would be to serve these clients anyway and try to absorb the loss, which is substantial.  The last choice would be to simply not serve them and wait for the new fiscal year to bring new revenues on October 1st.
It will come as no surprise that McClendon Center has chosen to serve these uninsured individuals and are doing so at our own expense.  We can’t let them go un-served, and we refuse to transfer them to an agency that will not provide the quality services that we do.  Our Board of Directors is acutely aware that this decision will likely put the Center in deficit for the fiscal year, the first time that has happened in this decade.  But how could we do otherwise?  What is the price tag for quality and compassion?  And what exactly does the District government value in regard to serving its most vulnerable residents?
If you have considered a gift to McClendon Center but have yet to make a donation, I ask that you actively consider making a contribution to help us cover the cost of providing these services.  For the rest of the summer, your financial participation in providing services to the uninsured would be very much appreciated by us all.

— Dennis Hobb, executive director

image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.nte