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Archive: November 2013

Capitol Connector
Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Second Chance Reauthorization Act Introduced

November 21, 2013 | Justice | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Legislation has been introduced in Congress to reauthorize and expand the Second Chance Act, a federal grant program for activities that support people returning to their communities after incarceration. First signed into law on April 9, 2008, the Second Chance Act was designed to help prisoners effectively reintegrate into the community. The Act established grants for government agencies and nonprofits to provide services that reduce recidivism by improving outcomes for people returning from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.

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Obama Proposes Fix Allowing Consumers to Temporarily Keep Canceled Plans

November 21, 2013 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Responding to backlash over insurance plan cancellation notices millions of Americans have received in recent weeks, President Obama announced a fix to ensure Americans who like their insurance can keep it through 2014.

Obama’s proposal would allow insurers who currently offer plans in the individual market—many of whom have sent cancellation letters in recent weeks—to continuing offering their plans into 2014, even if those plans do not meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage standards.

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Consumers Look to “Catastrophic Plans” for Alternative to Canceled Policies

November 20, 2013 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Adam Swanson

Senior Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Obama Administration continues to weather a storm of public criticism for the insurance plan cancelation notices that millions of Americans have received in recent weeks. Insurance companies have informed these policy holders that their plans are being canceled because the plans do not meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although […]

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Behavioral Health IT Coordination Act Introduced

November 14, 2013 | Health Information Technology | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Efforts to extend health IT payments to mental health and addiction providers advanced this week with the introduction of the Behavioral Health IT Coordination Act (S. 1685), which would add psychiatric hospitals, mental health treatment facilities, and substance abuse treatment facilities to the types of entities that may receive incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic health records.

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Low Enrollment Numbers Reflect Insurance Marketplaces’ Rocky Start

November 14, 2013 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Obama Administration this week released enrollment numbers for the first month that the health insurance marketplaces have been open for business. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, 106,000 individuals had selected a plan through the marketplaces as of November 2. These numbers reflect people who applied and chose a plan, but some may not have paid for their coverage yet.

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Historic Mental Health and Addiction Parity Rules Finalized

November 14, 2013 | Parity | Comments
sebelius announces final parity regulations

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last Friday, the federal agencies charged with implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act released their much-anticipated final regulations detailing how parity must be applied to insurance plans. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the historic announcement at the Carter Center Mental Health Symposium in Atlanta, noting that 62 million Americans are expected to gain access to comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment benefits under the law.

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Online Training Courses Help Behavioral Health Providers Learn Critical Business Skills

November 7, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments

Adam Swanson

Senior Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

As healthcare insurance options are set to expand in every state in 2014 – making an additional 30 million people eligible for coverage – behavioral health service providers need the business operation skills to expand capacity while remaining profitable. In order to help providers gain and enhance their abilities, SAMHSA has developed a national, online […]

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Conditions of Participation Issued for Community Mental Health Centers

November 7, 2013 | Medicare | Comments
conditions of participation

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

For the first time, community mental health centers offering partial hospitalization services under Medicare must meet specified Conditions of Participation, under guidance released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last week. The six Conditions of Participation (CoPs) establish requirements for client care, staff and provider operations, and quality measurement. The CoPs apply to community mental health centers (CMHCs) that participate in Medicare as partial hospitalization providers.

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Medicare Physician Pay Fix Advances

November 7, 2013 | Medicare | Comments
sgr

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Leaders of two key Congressional committees have agreed on a framework to scrap the current Medicare physician payment formula and replace it with one that would link reimbursement to the quality of care provided – a step that could put an end to the annual “Doc Fix” debate.

Without congressional action, Medicare physicians will suffer a major cut in pay rates this January. The cut is required under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which compels Medicare to adjust payment rates each year to align with a predetermined rate of growth in the program. In practice, this has meant that Medicare payments would take an ever-increasing yearly cut – but each year, Congress has passed legislation postponing those cuts.

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