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Ambassadors Brief: April 2016

IN THIS ISSUE:

FROM CHUCK’S CHAIR

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Dear National Council Ambassadors,

Advocacy is a lot like lifting weights.

In order to see progress, you have to be dedicated and persistent in working out. Each time you work out, you push yourself just a bit further than before. Over time, you continue to build up strength and endurance. That way, when the strength is needed most, you are well-equipped to take on the challenges in front of you.

As National Council Ambassadors, you flex your advocacy muscles throughout the year in meetings with legislators and staff. You work all year long to build strength and support from influential decision-makers in your state and here in Washington, D.C. And come this June 6-7 at National Council Hill Day 2016, we will once again be calling you to demonstrate your power on Capitol Hill.

Register today to secure your spot at Hill Day 2016. It’s free. It’s fun. And it makes a difference.

Sincerely,

Chuck Ingoglia
Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Practice Improvement
National Council for Behavioral Health


UPCOMING ACTIVITIES

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National Council Hill Day 2016
When: June 6-7, 2016
Where: Washington, DC

All year you have been building relationships with your members of Congress and Hill Day is the culmination of your hard work. National Council Hill Day 2016 will have over 600 advocates from 11 national organizations descending upon Capitol Hill, joining some of the biggest names in politics and policy. Register here and show off your superstar advocacy skills!


AMBASSADOR SPOTLIGHT

Speak up! Tell us about the great work you are doing in your community.

As Hill Day inches closer, be sure to keep sharing the fantastic work you are doing so we can feature you here and share your stories with your peers!

Remember, your expertise and relationships in Congress have a huge impact on our policy agenda. For your Member of Congress, you are an expert, a resource and most importantly… a constituent. Have one of your three Ambassador meetings before Hill Day and let us know how it goes. Your legislator wants to hear from you and so do we. Share your advocacy story with us today!


DISPATCH FROM CAPITOL HILL

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CARA Set for Votes in the House

When the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524) by a vote of 94-1, advocates appropriately celebrated a hard fought victory. After years of relentless work and advocacy, a standalone addictions bill had become the focal point of Senate action for nearly two weeks; it populated news headlines across the country; and elevated the conversation around treating addiction disorders to new heights. The Senate passage of CARA was a tremendously big deal.

And now that same bill awaits approval from the House of Representatives, where it has over 110 cosponsors.  So what do we know? Will the House move to consider the bill? Will CARA become law in 2016?

New reports from Capitol Hill indicate that the House of Representatives will indeed take up a host of opioid bills, including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (H.R.953), in the coming weeks.

In order for it to be passed by the House, CARA must go through a multi-step approval process: consideration and approval by the committee of jurisdiction, then consideration and approval by the whole House chamber. The first of these steps is scheduled for the last week of April when the House Judiciary Committee will convene a hearing and schedule a vote on the bill. News out of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office indicated time on the House floor as soon as the second week of May.

Upon approval by the full House body, any remaining differences between the House and Senate versions would then be worked out by a conference committee made up of members of both chambers. If and when that is completed, CARA would head to the White House for review and approval by the President.

After both houses of Congress vote in approval of the bill and the President signs it into law, all eyes then turn to congressional appropriators and whether or not they will fully fund all prevention, treatment and recovery supports the bill authorizes. Last week, the President announced a series of new funding opportunities to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic, proposing millions of new dollars to expand access to medication-assisted treatment, increase the distribution and use of naloxone and ensure access to treatment in rural areas across the US. Will the President’s announcement sway appropriators either way on adding new funding as the 114th Congress comes to a close?

ACTION ITEM: Call your Representative and ask for their support in seeing CARA through to passage. Need contact information for their office? Let us know.


STATE OF PLAY

state-play-webMedicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion Act

Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Angus King (I-ME) are currently working to secure support for their bill to expand residential substance use treatment through Medicaid. The Medicaid CARE Act (S. 2605) () would increase the bed limit on residential treatment facilities from 16 beds to no more than 40. It would also allow facilities to offer treatment services for up to 60 consecutive days.  The National Council supports this legislation and is working to help build cosponsorship from across the country. Have you asked for your Senators’ support yet? Send them a message and ask them to cosponsor the bill today.


BRIEFLY NOTED

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Addictions Remains Hot on the Trail. “The substance abuse issue is drawing attention in numerous Senate and House races around the country as well, including in states where the GOP seat is seen as vulnerable.” This Wall Street Journal article, featuring the National Council, dives deep into President Obama’s executive actions on addictions as well as the attention the issue is grabbing on the campaign trail. Read more.

House Makes Moves on CARA. “The House’s goal is simple. We want to build on efforts to prevent addiction and treat those suffering, crafting legislation that will gather bipartisan support and get signed into law. The President’s own proposals to combat opioid addiction demonstrate that there is ample opportunity to reach a bipartisan consensus,” – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in an op-ed on the opioid epidemic and Congress’ efforts to stop it.