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Archive: February 2014

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.

Speak Up for Mental Health Drug Access: Submit Your Comments Today!

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Do you support preserving patients’ access to needed mental health drugs in Medicare Part D? If so, we have good news: the regulations are still in draft form – meaning that we can push CMS to reverse course, if enough citizens make their concerns known!

There are three simple things YOU can do today:

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National Groups Launch Partnership to Fight Proposed Medicare Drug Restrictions

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A broad-based alliance of patient groups and health care stakeholders yesterday announced the formation of the Partnership for Part D Access, a coalition committed to protecting access to necessary medications for patients in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. The Partnership for Part D Access opposes a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that would weaken the successful “protected classes” policy in Medicare Part D by restricting access to antidepressants, antipsychotics and immunosuppressants for vulnerable patients.

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HHS Releases FAQ on Disclosure of Mental Health Information Under HIPAA

February 26, 2014 | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Department of Health and Human Services has released a Frequently Asked Questions document clarifying the circumstances under which healthcare providers are obligated to, permitted to, or prohibited from sharing information about patients who have a mental health diagnosis.

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National Council, NASMHPD to Host Webinar on CMHC Conditions of Participation

February 26, 2014 | Medicare | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Late last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized regulations outlining the conditions that community mental health centers must meet to participate in Medicare. The final rule applies primarily to organizations that offer partial hospitalization services under Medicare and establishes, for the first time, a broad array of service requirements and quality standards.

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National Council to Host Stakeholder Call on Medicare Part D Drug Access

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Friday, February 21st at 3:00 p.m. eastern, the National Council will host a national open-to-the-public policy call for attendees to learn more about a recent proposal that will make it harder for Medicare beneficiaries to access certain Part D drugs.

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New Cosponsors Join Bill to Expand Medicare Coverage for Mental Health Services

February 20, 2014 | Medicare | Comments

Adam Swanson

Senior Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

Several new cosponsors have signed onto a bill this month that would allow Medicare coverage for mental health services of marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors services. Currently, Medicare does not pay for services from these providers, an exclusion that limits patients’ access to services and unduly excludes an important class of professionals serving […]

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Health Insurance Marketplaces Enroll 3.3 Million

February 19, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced that 1.1 million Americans enrolled in private health insurance coverage through the state and federal marketplaces during the month of January, surpassing the Administration’s goal for the month.

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Progress Report on the Excellence in Mental Health Act

Charles Ingoglia

Senior VP, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

As I was sitting down to write this update I was searching for the right analogy to describe the legislative process in Washington. My first thought was to compare it to a roller coaster with all of the highs and lows, starts and stops. But the more I thought about it, I think the Tilt-A-Whirl is more apt – you know, that is the ride in which you sit in a little car, and it spins very fast in every direction, unpredictably. That is sure how it feels sometimes!

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White House Announces Another Delay of Employer Mandate

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Responding to ongoing concerns from the business community about the burden on employers, the White House this week announced yet another partial delay of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most employers offer health insurance to their employees or face penalties.

The employer mandate, as it is known, applies only to large employers (those with more than 50 employees) and requires businesses to provide health insurance for full time workers (defined as those working more than 30 hours per week).

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Senators Baldwin and Portman Introduce Therapeutic Foster Care Bill

February 13, 2014 | Children and Youth | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On February 4, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide for a standard Medicaid definition for therapeutic foster care.

Therapeutic foster care (often referred to as “Treatment Foster Care” or TFC) is the evidence-informed, trauma-informed, and highly effective placement of children and youth with serious medical, psychological, emotional and social needs.

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Attorney General Calls on States to Repeal Felon Voting Bans

February 11, 2014 | Justice | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week called on states to repeal laws that prohibit felons from voting, saying, “It is time to fundamentally reconsider laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision.”

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Network Adequacy Standards Strengthened for Plan Year 2015

February 6, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Health plans participating in federally facilitated insurance exchanges may be subject to a higher standard of “network adequacy” in 2015 than prior years, according to draft guidance from the federal agency tasked with overseeing the exchanges.

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Senate Committee Urges CMS to Preserve Mental Health Drug Access

Senator Max Baucus, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In a rare display of unanimity, the 24 members of the Senate Finance Committee have sent a joint letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services urging the agency to roll back a proposal that would drastically limit consumers’ access to mental health drugs.

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Rockefeller Proposes 12-Month Continuous Enrollment in Medicaid/CHIP

February 5, 2014 | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On February 3rd—the fifth anniversary of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act—Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia introduced a bill to ensure that Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries remain continuously enrolled for 12-month periods. The bill would ensure that individuals do not have to undergo frequent eligibility redeterminations, which can result in “churning” of individuals in and out of coverage.

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