LIRA Newsletter 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

Long Island Recovery Association
PO Box 262 Franklin Square NY 11010-0262
September 2008
Federal Insurance Parity Bill Close to Passage
Mary Callan
Board of Directors, LIRA
A Federal Bill that would require insurance companies to cover chemical dependence on a par with physical ailments and injuries is closer then ever to passage in the United States Congress.
Parity has been a goal of LIRA and other advocacy groups for many years. Earlier this session, the House and the Senate each passed their own very different parity bill. The House bill sponsored by Representatives Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad mirrored the coverage enjoyed by Federal employees and required coverage for all illnesses listed in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) The Senate version was much more restrictive. Fortunately, over the past few months, members of the House and Senate negotiated a compromise bill which, while more restrictive than we hoped, requires parity and does not preempt state laws providing greater coverage than the Federal Bill, provisions Advocates considered essential.
Unfortunately, two events have stood in the way of a vote on the bill. Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the prime sponsors in the Senate has been ill and has not been able to push the leadership to put the bill on the floor agenda. Secondly, the competitive, partisan, atmosphere in Congress has prevented this, as well as other important legislation, from being voted on.
The bill appears to have sufficient support in both Houses to result in successful passage. Representative Kennedy has said he is looking forward to working with his colleagues to pass the legislation when Congress reconvenes in September.
We urge you to call Senators, Clinton and Schumer and your Congressional Representative whose Washington phone numbers are listed and tell them that addiction and mental health parity is an issue of great importance to you and your family. Ask them to do all they can to bring the bill to the floor for a vote in September. If you have friends or family who live in other states ask them to call their senators and representatives with the same message.
September is National Recovery Month Celebrate with us: Details Inside
L.I. Congressional Delegation
Sen. Clinton
Sen. Schumer
Rep. Bishop
Rep. Israel
Rep. King
Rep. McCarthy
Rep. Ackerman
One call does make a difference. We are asking for just a few moments of your time to make these calls. Do it now before your forget.
We know that some of you reading this think, “My one phone call won’t make a difference, after all everyone else is calling.” Sadly, too many of us think that way, so the volume of calls we need to get through to our legislators, are not being made!! This is why our voice is not taken seriously. We cannot afford to think that the other guy is going to do it….
“Recovery is a Reality and Happening in Communities Across America”
Recovery Roars Across NY State
By Richard Buckman
Recovery Homes
Some progress was made with the formation of the Recovery Home Association of Long Island (RHALI). LIRA, LICAN and QCSC members served on the advisory board to help this new group take shape and get up and running. After many months of individual and group meetings, on site home inspections, and due diligence it was decided that the group would start with 3 or 4 verifiable high quality recovery home providers who could then begin to chart their own course toward expansion and sustenance.
LIRA along with our friends at LICAN and QCSC held several meetings with high ranking OASAS representatives as we continue to pursue improvements in housing options for people in early recovery. Our focus has expanded to include looking at several alternative housing programs while continuing to press for regulations and an increase in the reimbursement rates for deserving providers.
OASAS released a request for proposals for Long Island Agencies to acquire funds to open or expand community residence beds for individuals in early recovery and treatment. This $26.6 million initiative was in response to the uproar over sub standard sober housing that led to the closing of two treatment provider networks the past few years. We are hopeful that some of our quality provider friends are the recipients of a large share of these funds to ensure that quality and integrity are guiding principles.
New Developments
LIRA convened a series of meetings with a broad, bi- county representation of government agencies, treatment provider organizations and community groups to discuss the OASAS Recovery Centers initiative. This collaboration has helped set the groundwork and will allow LIRA to move in several directions if necessary for follow-upaction. We recently learned that the funding, through OASAS was cut by 50% even before this brand new project got off the ground.
We congratulate Long Island’s own Dean Skelos on his ascension to the role of NY State Senate Majority Leader. We are hopeful that Senator Skelos will look to steer his delegation towards building improved relationships with a widespread constituency including the recovery community. We look forward to the opportunity for many meetings where we might continue to educate our legislative leaders about addiction and recovery in the every day lives of Long Island residents.
The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has taken somepro-active steps around recovery in NY under the “walk the talk” leadership of Commissioner Karen Carpenter- Palumbo and our proud Friend of Recovery, Lureen McNeil, Deputy Director of Downstate Operations. The OASAS Recovery Services Bureau reached out to the recovery community seeking to bring about a paradigm shift at the state level. OASAS has engaged LIRA and other groups to initiate a serious dialogue with the recovery community to help bring about changes that will be reflected in a recovery oriented system of care similar to those adopted in other states. LIRA supports these OASAS initiatives, and we were the first to coordinate and host the OASAS Recovery Focus Groups. These groups, a series of recovery related forums were held around the state beginning with two on Long Island back in February 2007 where several LIRA members in recovery and family members joined others from the community to discuss the specific needs of the recovery community and families in recovery. We believe that information gathered at the forums will be useful in helping to design specific services that are responsive to the direct input of the participants
We are intimately involved in helping to plan the First Annual OASAS Statewide Recovery Conference to be held Sept 14th & 15th in Albany. LIRA members are working closely with other community groups OASAS staff and a multitude of agencies from across the state to produce an all inclusive, many paths to recovery conference, that will celebrate the uniqueness of the recovery process. It promises to be a great experience.
As referenced earlier, we also support the OASAS goal of establishing a number of recovery centers across the state to assist individuals and families in recovery to expand supports and strengthen their resolve. These partnerships with OASAS began taking shape in the fall of 2007 and we look forward to these and other exciting changes this coming year.
Friends of Recovery New York (FOR-NY)
During this past spring recovery community leaders from across NY State gathered in Albany and began a series of meetings and phone conferences to tackle the task of creating a statewide recovery community organization here in NY. With a steadfast commitment and pocket’s full of passion this wish became a reality when Friends of Recovery-New York (FOR-NY) was incorporated as a 501c (3) not for profit corporation.
We see this as a major milestone in helping to raise awareness of recovery by uniting our community in all corners of NY State. FOR-NY will formally launch in September by hosting a reception at the Recovery Conference in Albany. This new group will enable us to have stronger representation from across the state in matters of public policy and other areas of significance to the recovery community and make a difference in the
way we are looked upon by others. The initial board of directors consists of nine members and goes a long way towards reaching the goal of equal representation from all geographic areas of the state
FOR-NY will be an individual and group member organization and we can attest to the passion and dedication of our upstate friends; many of whom drove 5, 6, 7 or 8 hours to attend the steering committee meetings in Albany this past spring and summer.
Please join LIRA as a dues paying member to help us ensure our work will continue well into the future. Individual membership $25.00 Family $35.00 Organization $100.00. You can mail in your tax deductible check (payable to Friends of Recovery Long Island) to LIRA at PO Box 262 Franklin Square NY 11010-0262
We hope to see you at a National Recovery Month event
Recovery Month Events
LIRA & Nassau Community College:
Present 5th Annual National Recovery Month Event;
The Recovery Community “Into The Light” Friday Sept. 12, 2008 from 8:30-12:30 @ Nassau CC CCB Building Multi Purpose Room.
We are delighted that the Forbes family featured on the Channel 4 Dateline NBC Special “Saving Carrick” will be with us to discuss this life changing experiencing In addition our friend Melissa Shore from will be traveling from Virginia to share some important developments with attendees.
Beth Brockland, lead organizer with LICAN, will be on hand to talk about this powerful action organization and the latest local efforts.
Representatives from the OASAS Recovery Services Bureau will provide updates on the statewide OASAS commitment to Recovery and related initiatives on the agenda this calendar year.
Other presenters will share their knowledge and provide updates. This program as always was designed to meet the needs of a broad audience including the general public, college faculty, and student body, CASAC counselors, supervisors, administrators and those in recovery. We continue to work our magic in order to bring this program to you at no cost. This would not be possible without the generous support of our partners at Nassau CC and the program sponsors.
OASAS 1St Annual Statewide Recovery Conference:
Sun/Mon Sept 14th & 15th, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Albany NY. After the LIRA mini-conference on Friday join some local friends and head north on Sunday morning to attend this ground breaking statewide event. To register visit the OASAS web site.
A&E Television & NCADD
The A&E Television Channel is planning a “Hands Across the Bridge” event. The goal is to stretch recovery from Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan then to City Hall Park for a day of celebration on Sat Sept 27th 2008. Additional details to follow. Check the LIRA web site in Mid September at
Save these dates and join in a celebration of recovery throughout September!
LIRA in the Spotlight.
Since our last edition LIRA was honored for our work by The Pederson Krag Center who celebrated 50 years of service to the LI community at a gala event last fall.
Thanks to Nassau-NASW for considering LIRA as agency of the year; we appreciate the recognition of our important volunteer work.
Once again our partnership with Nassau Community College produced a successful and well attended
National Recovery Month Event “Addiction, A Family Affair” Join us on Friday September 12th 2008 for this year’s event, featuring free admission and breakfast; 3 pending CASAC hours. Additional details on page 4.
Claudia Ragni was honored by the LI EAPA Chapter, receiving the Monica Wright Award at the Annual EAPA Luncheon. Claudia joins Nancy Beckett-Lawless and Maureen Borkowski as recent LIRA winners of this worthy peer recognition. Way to go Claudia!
Richard Buckman was elected the first ever President of Friends of Recovery New York (FOR-NY) Inc. Our long time friend Deirdre Drohan-Forbes from our sister group Favor West in Westchester was elected Treasurer. LIRA and Favor West are both organizational members ofFOR-NY
LIRA wishes to acknowledge the contributions of long term member Mary Callan who has done so much this year to keep LIRA members informed with legislative happenings at the state and federal level.
LIRA sends congratulations to Betty Currier, former President of the Council on Addictions New York State (CANYS), current board member of both FAVOR andFOR-NY who has been selected to receive the America Honors Recovery Award from the Johnson Institute.
LIRA mourns the passing of our brother Paul Borkowski, who despite his own personal battle, still managed to show up at LIRA events and rallies the past few years to lend support; Paul especially liked to participate in our 1960’s style protests. We shall miss his gentle nature and wonderful spirit. Go Easy!

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