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Archive: August 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.

Vinfen Recognized for Innovative Use of Technology as Workforce Extender

Susan Partain

Senior Writer, National Council for Behavioral Health

Facing significant gaps in care for individuals living with serious mental illness, providers and payers around the country are turning to innovative technologies to address these patients’ physical and mental health needs. Vinfen – a National Council member organization serving areas of Massachusetts and Connecticut – was recently recognized by Connect 4 Mental Health for its creative use of technology through use of a small clock-radio-size device called Health Buddy that helps patients self-manage their health.

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Obama Announces Executive Actions to Improve Veterans’ Mental Health

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Tuesday, President Obama announced 19 new executive actions that the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense will take to improve the mental health of service members, veterans and their families. Speaking to a convention of the American Legion, Obama said these new actions will help improve service members’ transition from military to civilian healthcare providers, improve access to and quality of mental healthcare at VA and DoD facilities, improve treatments for mental health conditions such as PTSD, and encourage individuals to seek help by raising awareness about mental health.

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Report Highlights Challenges, Opportunities for Healthcare Delivery System Reform

August 28, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Payment reform is here to stay – but Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services must take steps to improve Accountable Care Organizations and other innovative delivery models. That was the message in a new report issued by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) earlier this month. Transitioning from Volume to Value: Opportunities and Challenges for Health Care Delivery System Reform outlines key challenges and opportunities for providers and policymakers in transitioning from a volume-driven fee-for-service (FFS) system to one based on the quality and value of health care received. Of particular interest to behavioral health organizations, BPC’s recommendations include:

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Mental Health First Aid Toolkit Supports State Policy Initiatives

August 28, 2014 | Mental Health First Aid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

n the 2013-2014 legislative session, 21 states passed legislation or initiated executive actions related to Mental Health First Aid. These included appropriations to support Mental Health First Aid activities, teacher training requirements, and more. As Mental Health First Aid continues to receive broad support at the state level, the National Council has updated our State Legislative Toolkit for 2014.

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Study: ACA Boosts Mental Health Access for Young Adults

August 27, 2014 | Children and Youth | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A new study published in Health Affairs suggests that an Affordable Care Act provision is partly responsible for a 2 percent increase in the number of young adults that receive mental health care. Under the health law, young adults are allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.

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#IceBucketCaucus

Charles Ingoglia

Senior VP, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Two months ago, many Americans had never heard of an obscure neurodegenerative disease that affects 30,000 people in the U.S. Now, thanks to the #IceBucketChallenge, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a household word. With that rise in awareness has come a stunning increase in private donations to ALS research and patient support – as of today, donors have contributed $88.5 million, compared to $2.6 million during this period last year.

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Action Needed: Ask Your Legislator’s Support for Breaking Addiction Act

August 21, 2014 | Addictions | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Legislation before Congress would permit Medicaid payment for services provided in certain residential substance use treatment centers, helping to expand low-income Americans’ access to care. The National Council supports this legislation and encourages Capitol Connector readers to ask your Representatives to sign on as cosponsors of the Breaking Addiction Act.

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National Council Magazine Highlights Successful Case Studies of Integration

August 21, 2014 | Integrated Care | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Affordable Care Act accelerated many state and local payment and delivery system reform initiatives, including efforts to improve physical and behavioral healthcare integration. The latest issue of National Council Magazine, The Many Faces of Integration, profiles ways providers are getting creative in their approaches to integrated care and population health.

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New Legislation Supports Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Legislation recently introduced in the Senate would authorize millions of dollars in overdose prevention programming and research in an effort to curb the growing trend of opioid overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 people die every day in the United States due to an opioid drug […]

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Emergency Department Visits for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts Rise

August 14, 2014 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Two new reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration highlight the rise in drug-related suicide attempt visits to hospital emergency departments from 2005 to 2011. During that period, there was a 51 percent increase for these types of visits among people 12 and older – from 151,477 visits in 2005 to 228,277 visits in 2011.

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Health Equity and Accountability Act Introduced

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

“Mental and behavioral health social workers” would be eligible for federal loan repayment benefits under new legislation introduced by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) with 70 cosponsors. The Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R.5294) adds these professionals to existing loan repayment programs, a move designed to bolster the behavioral health workforce. It also requires the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Institute of Medicine to conduct a study on “mental and behavioral health disparities in racial and ethnic minority groups” and issue recommendations for improvement to Congress.

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Bill Introduced to Extend Children’s Health Insurance Program Through 2019

August 13, 2014 | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Policy Associate

Late last month, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) introduced legislation that would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is set to expire in 2015 under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. The CHIP Extension and Improvement Act of 2014 (H.R. 5364) is a companion bill to legislation introduced by Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) in June. Without congressional action, millions of children and pregnant women could be left without health insurance when the program’s authorization expires next year.

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Most Uninsured May Be Exempt from ACA Mandate Penalty

August 12, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

According to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, nearly 90 percent of the 30 million U.S. residents who are uninsured will not have to pay a penalty under the Affordable Care Act’s insurance coverage mandate in 2016 because of a growing list of exemptions. Under the health law, most U.S. residents are required to purchase individual coverage beginning this year or risk penalties of between $95 and 1 percent of their taxable income, whichever is higher. The penalties are scheduled to increase to $325 or 2 percent in 2015 and $695 or 2.5 percent in 2016.

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Expanding Opportunities for Recovery Act Introduced

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congressmen Bill Foster (D-IL) and Sean Maloney (D-NY) have introduced legislation to increase low-income and uninsured patients’ access to inpatient rehabilitation services for heroin and other opioid abuse.

The Expanding Opportunities for Recovery Act (H.R. 5339) would establish a grant program under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in which states may use grant funds to provide residential or inpatient opioid addiction treatment for qualified individuals.

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House Passes Bill to Improve Law Enforcement Response to Opioid Abuse

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Legislation passed last week by the House would require the Obama Administration to issue a report on the current state of patients’ access to prescription opioid painkillers and how to improve law enforcement responses to opioid abuse, misuse and diversion. The report must evaluate:

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Coverage to Care: A New CMS Initiative

Adam Swanson

Senior Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

With 7.5 million Americans now insured through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, many of the newly covered find themselves navigating the world of provider networks, cost-sharing, and other complexities of health insurance for the first time. To ensure enrollees understand the features and unique benefits of insurance coverage obtained through the Health Insurance […]

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