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Archive: December 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.

Budget Compromise Passes Congress; Includes Short-term Medicare Pay Fix

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congress this week approved a bill setting top-line budget numbers for 2014 and 2015. The agreement alleviated fears of another government shutdown by paving the way for an omnibus spending package that will set programmatic spending levels for the remainder of the fiscal year. It also includes a three-month postponement of an imminent 20 percent cut to Medicare physician pay rates, giving House and Senate negotiators breathing room to finish their work on a comprehensive, permanent fix that could include the Excellence in Mental Health Act.

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Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Rises in November

December 17, 2013 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

After a troubled start in October, enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces rose substantially in November. The latest figures released by the Department of Health and Human Services show that more than 250,000 U.S. residents selected a health plan through the marketplaces in November, compared with just over 106,000 who had selected their plan in October.

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Congressman Tim Murphy Introduces Mental Health Reform Bill

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Today, Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced a bill to reform the nation’s mental health delivery system. The legislation is the culmination of a year-long series of hearings Murphy held as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Committee in the wake of the tragic 2012 Newtown shooting.

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Clarifying the Medicare Conditions of Participation for CMHCs

December 12, 2013 | Medicare | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Recently published guidance from the Obama Administration established, for the first time, conditions of participation (CoP) for community mental health centers in Medicare. In the weeks since this guidance was issued, the National Council has received many questions from our members asking whether and to what extent these guidelines apply to them. Keep reading for answers.

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Obama Administration Announces $100 Million in Mental Health Funding

December 11, 2013 | Federal Budget | Comments

Charles Ingoglia

Senior VP, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the Obama Administration announced the imminent availability of $100 million in mental health funding to be used to expand service delivery in community health settings and rural areas.

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Stage 3 Meaningful Use Deadline Delayed by One Year

December 10, 2013 | Health Information Technology | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced a one-year delay in the implementation of Stage 3 Meaningful Use criteria. Established under the HITECH Act of 2009, each stage of Meaningful Use outlines the metrics organizations must meet to receive incentive payments for their use of electronic health records. Participating organizations will have an additional year to comply with Stage 2 criteria while CMS crafts its proposed rules for Stage 3.

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Happy Birthday, Medicare Part D! 10-Year Anniversary of Landmark Law is Dec. 8

December 5, 2013 | Medicare | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On December 8, 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA), which established the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Program known as Medicare Part D. In creating the first-ever outpatient prescription drug benefit under Medicare, the law closed a significant gap in health insurance coverage for Medicare beneficiaries.

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Online Healthcare Enrollment for Small Business Delayed by One Year

December 5, 2013 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last Wednesday, the White House delayed the launch of its online small business marketplace by one year. Companies with fewer than 50 employees were slated to begin buying coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), an online federal exchange, this month. Agency officials said the latest delay reflected the Administration’s priority on getting the HealthCare.gov website to work for individual customers.

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Medicaid Enrollment Surged During October, Says CMS

December 5, 2013 | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

More than 1.4 million people were determined eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program in October, according to a government report issued this week. The numbers reflect an average 15.5% increase in Medicaid application volume in states participating in the Medicaid expansion and a 4.1% increase in states that are not expanding Medicaid.

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