IN THIS ISSUE:
- From Chuck’s Chair: Tell Congress to Support Mental Health and Substance Use Funding
- Upcoming Ambassador Activities: National Council Conference 2016
- Ambassador Spotlight: Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Advocates
- Dispatch from Capitol Hill: #Fundthe24: A Grassroots Movement for Excellence Act Expansion
- State of Play: The latest news on National Council legislative priorities
- Briefly Noted: Interesting articles on our radar
FROM CHUCK’S CHAIR
Dear National Council Ambassadors,
Appropriators on Capitol Hill are working to finalize line-item funding levels for fiscal year 2016. Reports from DC are that negotiations will continue until after the Thanksgiving recess. This gives us an important window to take action and ensure the proper funding of mental health and substance use treatment services.
We are calling on all National Council Ambassadors to reach out to your Members of Congress and ask them to support funding for behavioral health programs and services. Feel free to focus on any topics you find most important (such as Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration, the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, or Mental Health First Aid). The goal is for all Ambassadors to contact their legislators before appropriations are finalized early next month.
Need some inspiration? Check out our Hill Day 2015 Appropriations Fact Sheet for specific budget asks.
Need contact information for your Health LA? Check out our 2015 Congressional Health Staff Directory.
As always, please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions
Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Practice Improvement
National Council for Mental Wellbeing
National Council Conference 2016
When: March 7-9, 2015
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
If you haven’t already registered for NatCon16, March 7-9 in Las Vegas, NV, do it today! Join your colleagues at the largest behavioral health conference of the year. Register today for the best deals of the year.
Thank you to our Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act advocates!
Earlier this month, the National Council reached out with a special request to Ambassadors whose Members of Congress served on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The special request was to send a personalized letter to their legislators, asking for their cosponsorship and support of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (H.R.953/S.524). Thank you so much to those that responded to that important request.
Julie Tessler, Vermont Council of Developmental and Mental Health Services
Paige Miller, Hope House Inc.
Peggy Terhune, Monarch NC
Want to be featured here? Continue reading this issue for more opportunities to get involved!
DISPATCH FROM CAPITOL HILL
#Fundthe24: A Grassroots Movement for Excellence Act Expansion
With the year’s end approaching, we have a time-limited window for a possible expansion of the Excellence in Mental Health Act – and we need your help to seize this opportunity. Over the last two weeks, support for expanding the Excellence Act demonstration project has grown in communities and states all across the country. Most importantly, that unified support has made its way to Capitol Hill in the form of local and national op-eds, action alerts, and personalized constituent outreach.
With this vote coming down to the wire, these are the moments the National Council Ambassador Network was made for!
The Excellence in Mental Health Act represents the largest federal investment in mental health and addiction care in generations. In October, 24 states were selected for a planning grant under the Excellence Act—but unless Congress takes action to expand the Act, only 8 states will ultimately get to take advantage of this $1.1 billion infusion of funding into our behavioral health system. That’s why we need Congress to expand the demonstration to all 24 states.
If you live in one of the 24 planning states, here are the steps we need you to take before this Friday, November 20:
- Download this template letter and fact sheet. As always, please feel free to personalize it with information about how supporting mental health and addictions treatment services is beneficial for every American.
- Email the personalized letter and fact sheet to the health LA in your legislators’ offices. (Don’t know who that is? Find out in our 2015 Congressional Health Staff Directory!)
- Be sure to cc or bcc firstname.lastname@example.org on your email!
STATE OF PLAY
Comprehensive Reform Legislation Approved Out of Subcommittee
Earlier this month, lawmakers on a key health subcommittee approved amendments to Representative Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, sending the bill on to consideration by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee. The National Council was disappointed to see many key provisions removed from the bill, including the expansion of the Excellence in Mental Health Act as well as provisions incentivizing behavioral health providers to adopt electronic health records.
While this is a step forward for Rep. Murphy’s legislation, there is still a long road ahead before this bill becomes law. The bill must advance through the full House Energy and Commerce Committee and then be approved by the full body of the House of Representatives before moving over to the Senate where the process would start over again from the beginning.
Check out more on our coverage of the mark-up.
Mental illness and substance use disorder take the national stage. Last month, presidential candidates began sharing their detailed policy plans related to behavioral health treatment services. This month, 2016ers began opening up about their personal experiences with mental illness and addiction, sharing stories of parents, siblings, children and friends. Read their stories here.
Awards season is right around the corner. Apply today! The National Council is excited to announce the launch of our 2016 Awards of Excellence. These awards recognize the outstanding work of providers happening throughout the year in communities across the country. Know someone worthy of recognition? Encourage them to apply. Award winners will be honored at the Celebration of Excellence Concert and Awards Dinner at National Council Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in March! The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, December 7.