2022 California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA) Conference

Two New York Behavioral Health IPAs Merge

Coordinated Behavioral Health Services (CBHS) and Comprehensive Care Network of the Hudson Valley (CCN), two Independent Practice Associations (IPAs) serving individuals in the lower Hudson River valley, are merging. Both organizations are recipients of state Value Based Payment (VBP) Readiness Program grants, which enabled them to form Behavioral Health Care Collaboratives (BHCCs).

During the process of developing their BHCC work plans, both organizations recognized that gaps in their networks could be well filled by the other IPA. CBHS’s network lacked sufficient capacity for substance use disorder services, while CCN’s had insufficient mental health services available. When leadership of the two organizations recognized the extent to which their networks were compatible, and the almost complete overlap in their service geographies, they decided that a merger between the two IPAs was the wisest way to proceed.

This merger is consonant with national trends in mergers among providers at all levels, resulting from the move to VBP, and the infrastructure demands that result. While some in the state have utilized the $8.4b Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program in order to facilitate their transition to accountable care, behavioral health providers have had very limited access to those funds. The $60m that state policymakers were able to secure for BHCCs enables some of the work needed for integration, but in order to develop the necessary infrastructure, and build a sustainable model, these two IPAs chose to bring their networks, and their BHCC funds, together. Both CCN and CBHS understood the overlap in their client bases, and sought to eliminate duplication, increase outreach, and provide more cost-effective, high quality care. In an effort to improve the health outcomes of the individuals they serve, enhance their quality of care, and generate economies of scale, they chose to merge their IPAs.

CBHS is made up of ten not-for-profit provider organizations, and one IPA (which is comprised of seven agencies) and covers seven counties. Shortly after the organization formed as a nonprofit in 2012, it became an IPA. The IPA allowed CBHS to provide integrated care solutions for individuals with complex healthcare needs. Partnering allowed these organizations to improve quality outcomes while working with various other healthcare entities including, MCOs, FQHCs, and hospital systems. In addition, CBHS’s BHCC has 47 affiliates, including the largest hospital, FQHC, and health home providers in the region.

CCN is a not-for-profit IPA comprised of thirteen behavioral health providers serving Medicaid beneficiaries in five counties in the Hudson River region. While their focus is primarily substance use services, CCN members also offer mental health services in Westchester and Rockland counties. CCN also partners with twenty-six health, housing, and prevention affiliates in an effort to provide social supports to its growing client base.

When interviewed, leaders of both CBHS and CCN agreed that partnerships among behavioral health providers and between the specialty behavioral health community and the greater healthcare system were critical in delivering cost-effective quality care, and that adding value for primary care and hospital system providers will be essential to serving their community going forward. CBHS Co-Chair Liz Kadatz, Director of Operations of RSS, said about the merger: “We want to do the very best work we can for these populations. We are committed and serious about building solutions. We expect we can do this through implementing ideas that work and learning from those that do not.” Likewise, CCN Co-Chair Adrienne Marcus, CEO of the Lexington Center for Recovery said that they “have a lot to learn from CBHS, and hopefully they will learn from us…We want to better serve these populations and can do so through this merger.”

Photo Details: Back Row (L): Mark Sasvary (Hudson Valley Mental Health), Seth Diamond (Westchester Jewish Community Services), Elizabeth Kadatz (Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc.), Amy Gelles (The Guidance Center), Ashley Brody (Search for Change), Katariina Hoaas (Access Support for Living), Andrew O’Grady (Mental Health Association of Dutchess), Jeff Spitz (Restorative Management); Middle Row (L): Saqib Altaf (Hudson Valley Community Services), Susan Sayers (Coordinated Behavioral Health Services), Andrea Straus (Hudson Valley Community Services), Charlotte Ostman (Mental Health Association of Westchester), Amy Anderson-Winchell (Access Support for Living), Kathy Pandekakes (Human Development Services of Westchester), Nadia Allen (Mental Health Association in Orange County, Inc.), Pat Lemp (Westchester Jewish Community Services), Stephanie Madison (Mental Health Association of Rockland), Lydia Edelhaus (Mental Health Association of Dutchess); Sitting (L): Diane Russo (CoverCare Center), Susan Miller (Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc.), Eric D’Entrone (Arms Acres/Liberty Management), Adrienne Marcus (Lexington Center for Recovery), Alison Carroll (CoverCare Center), Charles Quinn (RECAP: Regional Economic Community Action Program); Missing: Sonia Wagner (Mental Health Association of Rockland), Stacey Roberts  (Mental Health Association of Westchester), Kelly Darrow  (Human Development Services of Westchester), Polly Kerrigan, Aron Reiner (Bikur Cholim)

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