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Archive: May 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.

CMS Finalizes Part D Rule; Leaves Opening for Future Action on Protected Classes

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last week issued its final rule on Medicare Part D changes for fiscal year 2015. While codifying a range of fraud and abuse-related proposals, the rule – as signaled in an earlier letter to Congress – does not adopt controversial proposed modifications that would have stripped mental health drugs of their protected status in Part D.

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CMS Proposes 1-Year Reprieve on 2014 EHR Certification; Issues Attestation Guidance

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would allow providers participating in the EHR Incentive Programs to use the 2011 Edition of certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) for calendar and fiscal year 2014.

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May 18-24 is National Prevention Week

May 22, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. The theme of National Prevention Week 2014 is “Our Lives. Our Health. Our Future.”

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Annual Growth in Prescription Drug Spending Slows

May 22, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments
pills

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

According to a new report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the growth of prescription drug spending has declined from 14.7% in 2001 to 2.9% in 2011. The annual report also offers a review of other health trends, including mental health and tobacco use. The CDC’s examination of prescription drug use and spending trends found that the rate of U.S. residents who regularly took prescription drugs increased from 39% between 1988 and 1994 to 48% between 2007 and 2010.

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SAMHSA to Host Webinar on Financing Medication-Assisted Treatment

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Friday, May 16 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. eastern time, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will host a webinar on “Medication-Assisted Treatment: Medicaid and Innovative Service Models To Finance Treatment.”

Medications can play an important role in treating alcohol and opioid dependence. For this reason, it is critical that Medicaid programs develop clinically sound and cost-effective delivery and financing approaches to provide these medications to individuals who need them. The objectives of this SAMHSA-sponsored webinar on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) are to help state and local policymakers and administrators understand:

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Senate Caucus Holds Hearing on Heroin and Opioid Abuse

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Yesterday, the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Committee held a hearing on prescription drug abuse and the role it plays in the increased use of heroin in the U.S. Caucus members also examined ways the federal government can help reduce opioid abuse. This discussion is one in a series of recent hearings on Capitol Hill about opiate addiction, following reports earlier this year that efforts to stop prescription-drug abuse have resulted in a heroin boom.

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Medicaid Enrollment Rises Even in States that Opted Out of Expansion

May 15, 2014 | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

States that opted out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion are still experiencing Medicaid enrollment increases, according to a new analysis by Avalere Health. The healthcare consulting firm found that in 17 of the 26 states that did not expand Medicaid, enrollment grew by more than 550,000 patients. The increases ranged from a low of 0.1 percent in Texas to 10.1 percent in Montana. Enrollment growth exceeded 50,000 beneficiaries in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

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Congressional Cosponsors Join Behavioral Health Bills After Hill Day

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Several members of Congress have added themselves as cosponsors to the Mental Health First Aid Act and Behavioral Health IT Act in the wake of the National Council’s 10th annual Hill Day, held May 7 in Washington, D.C.

Hill Day brought more than 1,200 mental health and substance use advocates to DC for three days of public policy workshops and trainings, followed by visits with their legislators to advocate for our field’s priorities.

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Highlights from NatCon14

May 9, 2014 | Hill Day | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, over 4,000 mental health and substance use providers, executives, consumers, family members and other stakeholders descended on Washington D.C. for the annual National Council Conference and Hill Day. We hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did! In case you missed it, here are a few of the week’s highlights:

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Senators Introduce Caring for America’s Heroes Act

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Marking the start of National Mental Health Awareness Month, Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation last week to improve behavioral healthcare for veterans and members of the military. The Caring for America’s Heroes Act (S. 2276) eliminates the cap on days of inpatient psychiatric treatment for military service members’ families and removes some preauthorization requirements.

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Several House Committee Members Introduce Broad Behavioral Health Bill

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Earlier this week, members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce – which oversees many policies related to mental health and substance use – introduced legislation to improve the U.S. behavioral healthcare system.

The Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act (H.R. 4574) was introduced by Ron Barber (D-AZ), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Paul Tonko (D-NY).

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House Subcommittee Examines Approaches to Curbing Opioid & Heroin Abuse

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The growing problem of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use in the U.S. was the topic of a Tuesday morning House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing. In his opening statement, Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced the breadth of the problem, explaining that prescription painkillers are involved in more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined and that prescription drug abuse kills more than 16,000 people per year.

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Senate Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Law Enforcement Responses to Individuals in Crisis

May 1, 2014 | Justice | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing to explore challenges and solutions in law enforcement officers’ responses to individuals with mental illness or disabilities who are in crisis.

The hearing, entitled “Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety,” was hosted by Subcommittee Chair Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

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Justice-Involved Individuals: New Options for Health Coverage

May 1, 2014 | Justice | Medicaid | Comments

Adam Swanson

Senior Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

A new report from Health Affairs details options for states to provide health insurance coverage for formerly incarcerated persons, affording behavioral health providers new opportunities to serve these newly eligible individuals. Health Affairs outlines how states can significantly increase the availability of services for these individuals and ultimately reduce recidivism rates. The report highlights the […]

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Webinar Summarizes Details of Mental Health First Aid RFA

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released its Request for Applications (RFA) related to $15 million in new funding for communities to offer Mental Health First Aid. On April 29, the National Council held a webinar to brief interested individuals and entities about the details of this funding announcement.

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