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Archive: April 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.

CBO Reduces Forecast for States’ Medicaid Expansion

April 30, 2014 | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reduced by one-third its estimate of how much more states will spend on Medicaid in the next decade because of the ACA. Under newly revised projections, the budget office said states that expand Medicaid will spend an additional $46 billion on the program, compared with a February estimate of $70 billion more.

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Advancing Federal Initiatives to Reduce Prescription Opioid and Heroin Abuse

Charles Ingoglia

Senior VP, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week I had one of the scariest experiences of my adult life when I attended the Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta, Ga. This is the third such summit sponsored by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) as a result of the devastating effects of the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse in his Congressional District.

The most startling part of the summit for me was the realization of how huge a problem the abuse of prescription opioids is in our country.

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FDA Announces Move to Regulate E-Cigarettes

April 24, 2014 | Tobacco and Smoking | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Food and Drug Administration today proposed a broad new regulation that will extend its regulatory authority to cover e-cigarettes and other nicotine products.

Under the Tobacco Control Act, the FDA already regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Other nicotine products, such as electronic cigarettes, are not subject to the same restrictions. As a result, little is known about their composition and health risks, and there are few protections in place for American consumers.

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Patrick Kennedy to Speak at National Council Conference and Hill Day

April 24, 2014 | Hill Day | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In the mental health and substance use field, Patrick Kennedy requires no introduction. We all know him for the political legacy for which he fought tirelessly (parity), for his passionate commitment to improved behavioral healthcare and increased brain research, and for bravely sharing his own experiences with bipolar disorder and addiction while in Congress.

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Mental Health First Aid for Veterans Launches

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council, along with leaders from veterans service organizations and fellow mental health advocates, today launched a new training program – Mental Health First Aid for Veterans – that offers participants a simple, proven combination of information and techniques to recognize and respond to the warning signs of mental illness and addiction.

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ACA Enrollment Hits 8 Million, Says President Obama

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Today, in a speech delivered in the White House briefing room, President Barack Obama announced that 8 million people have signed up for private insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). President Obama argued in his remarks that the success of the law’s inaugural open enrollment period should mark the end of efforts to repeal the health reform law. Still, the available data leave many questions unanswered, including the number of enrollees who have actually paid their premiums and the number who were previously uninsured.

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Funding Opportunity Announced for Mental Health First Aid / Project AWARE

April 17, 2014 | Mental Health First Aid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has published two new funding opportunity announcements related to the Project AWARE and Mental Health First Aid initiative enacted by Congress in the 2014 budget. The National Council encourages our member organizations and local Mental Health First Aid instructors to collaborate with state and local education agencies to submit a grant application.

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Medicaid Enrollment Increases by 3 Million Since Start of ACA

April 10, 2014 | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Approximately three million individuals have gained coverage through Medicaid or CHIP since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions in October, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

As of February 2014, Medicaid enrollment in the 46 reporting states and the District of Columbia was 5 percent higher than in the 6-month period preceding the October 1st start of open enrollment.

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Share Your Experiences with Parity and Health Reform Rollout

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Coalition for Whole Health (CWH), of which the National Council is a member, is currently running a survey on the implementation and oversight of the Affordable Care Act and Parity. The survey consists of 16 questions and should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. This survey is critical to our field, as the information provided will help ensure that people around the country have access to mental health and substance use disorder care.

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Republican Leaders to CMS: Do Not Revive Proposed Medicare Drug Restrictions

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In a letter last week, top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to refrain from revisiting a proposed regulation that would have made substantial changes to the Medicare Part D program. Among other changes, the proposed regulation would have stripped antidepressants and antipsychotics of their protected status in Part D, opening the door for plans to sharply limit their coverage of these medications. CMS announced early last month that it would not finalize this and other contentious aspects of the rule, but might revisit them at a later date.

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ACA Health Insurance Enrollment Hits 7.1 Million

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The White House this week announced that enrollment in the state and federal health insurance exchanges surpassed 7 million upon the end of the open enrollment period Monday. The announcement surprised critics of the Affordable Care Act and even some of its supporters, who predicted that the website’s disastrous rollout last October portended weak enrollment.

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Congress Approves 1-Year Delay to ICD-10

April 3, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A little-noticed provision in the Medicare physician pay fix passed by Congress this week will delay for one year the implementation of ICD-10. Under the new rules, providers will not be required to adopt ICD-10 until October 1, 2015.

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Excellence Act Demonstration Program: The Details

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

With the enactment of the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration program this week, now the real work of implementation begins. So, what’s in the law? And how will it affect community mental health and substance use providers? Keep reading for the nitty-gritty details.

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Rep. Paul Ryan Releases 2015 Budget Blueprint; Includes Conversion of Medicaid to Block Grant

April 2, 2014 | Federal Budget | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has unveiled his $1.014 trillion Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget proposal, The Path to Prosperity. Congressman Ryan’s budget outlines roughly $5.1 trillion in deficit-reduction proposals over the next decade, including major reforms to Medicare and Medicaid. Key provisions delineated in the latest proposal include:

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President Obama Signs Excellence in Mental Health Act into Law

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed into law H.R. 4302, a bill to temporarily stave off Medicare physician payment cuts that also includes the historic Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration program.

The legislation, which passed the House last Thursday and the Senate on Monday night, establishes a $900 million, two year demonstration program in eight unspecified states to offer a broad range of mental health and substance use treatment services, including 24-hour crisis psychiatric services, while setting new standards for provider organizations.

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