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Archive: October 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.

SAMHSA Releases Registration, Comment Details for Excellence Act Listening Session

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Following up on last month’s announcement that it would hold a November 12 listening session on the Excellence in Mental Health Act, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released registration details and additional information for the event.

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CMS Issues Guidance on Substance Use Disorder Care Delivery Transformation

October 30, 2014 | Addictions | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Informational Bulletin outlining a framework for states to transform their substance use disorder care delivery systems and offering opportunities for states to receive intensive technical assistance through an upcoming learning collaborative.

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Support Addiction Treatment and Recovery: Contact Your Legislators Today

October 30, 2014 | Addictions | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Legislation before Congress would make important investments in our nation’s addiction system, providing support for prevention, treatment and recovery efforts in every state. The bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 2839) authorizes up to $70 million per year over the next 10 years for activities related to overdose prevention, treatment alternatives to incarceration, medication assisted treatment, and much more.

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CMS: Accountable Care Organization Regulations Up for Review

October 30, 2014 | Integrated Care | Comments

Nina Marshall

Director of Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has indicated that we’ll likely be ringing in the New Year with revised regulations for Accountable Care Organizations in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Signals from CMS indicate that the revised rules will address stakeholder feedback on how patients are attributed to individual ACOs

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CMS Launches Health Care Transformation Initiative

October 30, 2014 | Medicaid | Medicare | Quality | Comments
conditions of participation

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new initiative for the development of comprehensive quality improvement strategies to achieve large-scale heath care transformation. The “Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative” is the latest CMS initiative to help clinicians and hospitals move from volume-based to valued-based and patient-centered quality health services. The initiative will provide up to $840 million over the next four years to support 150,000 clinicians in the development of comprehensive quality improvement strategies.

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Whatever it Takes: Strengthening Continuity of Care in MHA Village

October 23, 2014 | Integrated Care | Comments

Susan Partain

Manager, Communication Projects, National Council for Behavioral Health

The MHA Village, which started in 1990, was recognized in Phase I of Connect 4 Mental Health for its innovations in continuity of care, helping ensure individuals with serious mental illness receive appropriate and consistent care without significant gaps in coverage or treatment quality.

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NASADAD Releases Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Practice Guide

October 23, 2014 | Addictions | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Association of State Alcohol and Substance Abuse Directors (NASADAD) has released a new practice guide to inform states’ efforts to improve and expand treatment of substance use disorders among adolescents. The release of the adolescent substance use disorder guide comes at a critical time for teens and state substance abuse agencies, amid major health system changes – such as parity and the Affordable Care Act – that create greater opportunities for young people to receive substance use disorder services, yet require substantial additional work in states and communities to be fully realized.

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Toolkit Analyzes Role of Graduate Medical Education in Addressing Physician Shortages

October 23, 2014 | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In response to ongoing national discussions of the health care workforce shortage, the Alliance for Health Reform has released a toolkit analyzing the physician shortage and providing recommendations for increasing recruitment and placement efforts. Specifically, the toolkit analyzes the role graduate medical education (GME) programming plays in strengthening the workforce, with positive effects for physicians across all specialties, including psychiatry. Eighty million Americans currently live in a mental health shortage area, according to the Health Resources Services Administration.

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President Obama to Tackle Sequestration in Next Fiscal Year

October 16, 2014 | Federal Budget | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A top economic adviser to President Obama said this week that the President plans to “push quite vigorously” against sequestration in the upcoming debate over spending levels for fiscal year 2016. Because it affects top-line spending for health, education, and infrastructure activities, a reversal or reduction in the sequestration cuts could make more funding available for priorities like mental health and addiction treatment.

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CMS Outlines New Measures to Streamline 2015 Coverage Renewal Process

October 16, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In a press release issued this week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) highlighted new measures the agency has undertaken to expedite and improve the re-enrollment of existing Healthcare.gov marketplace enrollees for coverage effective next year.

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National Council Reviews Behavioral Health’s Role in Medicare Quality Initiatives

October 8, 2014 | Medicare | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Medicare is well on its way to fully incorporating mental health and addiction treatment in its quality initiatives – and behavioral health providers should prepare now for this seismic shift in payment and accountability. That’s the core message of a new National Council report, “A Place at the Table: Behavioral Health and CMS’ Physician Quality Reporting System.”

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Judge Rules Against Health Insurance Subsidies in Federal Marketplace

October 8, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last Tuesday, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled that Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies can’t go to consumers who obtained health coverage through the federal insurance marketplace. The ruling is the latest in a series of challenges to the legality of health insurance tax credits in states that opted not to run their own health insurance marketplaces. Two other federal courts have previously issued conflicting rulings on this issue.

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New Bill Authorizes Grants to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

October 7, 2014 | Addictions | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

New legislation introduced in Congress would offer a number of grants to deter prescription drug abuse and assist individuals receiving addiction treatment. Authored by Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (H.R. 5587).

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SAMHSA to Host Listening Session on Excellence in Mental Health Act

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has announced it will hold a listening session on the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration program November 12, 2014. SAMHSA is tasked with writing the federal regulations that will specify how organizations can meet the law’s criteria to become Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHCs).

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Panelists Explain Importance of Mental Health Drug Access to Congress

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Partnership for Part D Access, of which the National Council is a member, this week hosted House and Senate congressional staff briefings to share patient and health care provider experiences that demonstrate the importance of protecting beneficiary access to proper care under Medicare’s Six Protected Classes policy.

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CMS Again Delays Deadlines for EHR Incentive Program

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has yet again postponed deadlines for the electronic health records (EHR) incentive program. The EHR Incentive Program, also called Meaningful Use, is administered by Medicare and Medicaid and is broken into three stages to incentivize the adoption and utilization of health information technology. To complete each stage, participating providers must prove to CMS that they are completing a set number of requirements and demonstrate a meaningful use of the health information technology. Now in its fifth year, providers participating in the EHR incentive program are working to complete Stage One and Stage Two of the three stage process.

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CMS Releases FAQ on Medicaid’s Role in Covering Autism Services

October 2, 2014 | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a FAQ on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the role Medicaid can play in supporting beneficiaries with ASD. The FAQ also reviewed state obligations under the Early and Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) and how ASD therapies fit into state plan amendments and home and community based services waivers.

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