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Archive: November 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 Updates Essential Benefits for 2016; Improves Prescription Drug Coverage

November 26, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Consumers could have greater access to prescription medications in health plans sold in the state and federal Marketplaces under a new proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last week.

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Rep. Lynn Jenkins, University of Kansas Host Veterans Mental Health First Aid Training

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On November 22, a group of students, veterans, and other interested community leaders participated in a free Mental Health First Aid for Veterans (MHFA) training. The training was hosted by Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), the KU Collegiate Veterans Associations, KU Counseling and Psychological Services and KU Graduate Military Programs.

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Refusing to Wait: Henderson Behavioral Health Counters First Episode Psychosis

November 26, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments

Susan Partain

Manager, Communication Projects, National Council for Behavioral Health

People don’t call community behavioral health providers and say they need an intervention for first episode psychosis. They call to ask questions – they are unsure about what is going on with their child, or are confused about their own experiences.

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“I am Essential” Coalition Urges Improvements to Essential Health Benefits

November 20, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A broad coalition of national groups, including the National Council, has submitted comments to the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) outlining how Essential Health Benefits should be improved to protect patient health.

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National Council Signs on to Letter Encouraging Network Adequacy Standards

November 19, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council signed on to a letter to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) encouraging them to adopt network adequacy standards that will protect consumers’ access to care, particularly specialty care like mental health and substance use treatment. The recommendations put forth in the letter establish reasonable and meaningful standards, while still allowing for health insurance market flexibility and choice.

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Behavioral Health IT Coalition Launches Website

November 18, 2014 | Health Information Technology | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the Behavioral Health Information Technology (BHIT) Coalition launched a website highlighting important legislation to include mental health and addiction providers in electronic health records (EHR) incentive programs. The BHIT Coalition, of which the National Council is a founding member, provides analysis on a number of bills that would include behavioral health providers as a part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, providing financial incentives for the adoption of EHRs.

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Study Finds Medication Restrictions Significantly Affect Mental Health Outcomes

November 13, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A new study administered by the National Council for Behavioral Health and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found many common insurance and state Medicaid policies may negatively impact patient health and impose a major workload on psychiatrists that takes time away from patient care and other important duties.

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SAMHSA Holds Listening Session on CCBHC Certification Criteria

Nina Marshall

Director of Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Yesterday, SAMHSA held a listening session on certification criteria for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). Passed by Congress in March of this year, CCBHCs will provide a comprehensive range of mental health and substance use disorder services while being paid under a prospective payment system that will assure clinics have the financial resources to provide high quality care. Over 1700 people registered to attend the listening session, either in person or virtually, and nearly 150 registered to comment publicly.

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Saving Millions, Improving Lives: San Antonio’s Center for Health Care Services

November 13, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments

Susan Partain

Manager, Communication Projects, National Council for Behavioral Health

With an incarceration rate of 1 in nearly 100 adults, it’s no surprise that America’s prisons and jails face serious overcrowding. And far too often, jails and prisons have become a place where people with mental illnesses are housed and treated—at a high rate of recidivism and great expense to state and local governments.

The Center for Health Care Services (CHCS) in San Antonio has a different approach to help its overflowing jails, provide critical mental health services to people in need, and save the city serious money—to the tune of $50 million over the past five years.

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Open Enrollment to Begin Nov. 15; HHS Lowers Enrollment Estimate

November 13, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Affordable Care Act’s second annual open enrollment period is set to start November 15, giving Americans the opportunity to select health insurance through their state or federal marketplace. Currently, 7.1 million people are insured through a marketplace plan. The Department of Health and Human Services has said its goal is to get 9.1 million people signed up for coverage during this year’s open enrollment, a number substantially lower than the Congressional Budget Office’s projection of 13 million. If fewer people sign up for coverage, organizations that treat the uninsured could feel the crunch.

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Supreme Court to Hear Case on Health Insurance Subsidies in Federal Marketplace

November 12, 2014 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the legality of federal financial assistance for consumers who purchase health insurance in states that opted not to set up their own health insurance exchanges. The appeal targets a technical inconsistency in the law that states that this financial assistance is available only to consumers in states that set up and run their own exchanges. If the federal subsidies are found to be against the terms of the law, consumers in 36 states would lose federal assistance for their insurance plans, potentially making plans unaffordable to millions.

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The Election is over… now what? Check out the National Council’s Post-Election Toolkit!

November 6, 2014 | Take Action | Comments
US Capitol

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The 2014 midterm elections have come and gone. There are many new faces in the US Congress, gubernatorial offices, state legislatures and local government positions. Knowing this, now is the time to connect with your elected officials – new or incumbents – to establish your role as a community leader and behavioral health provider. Developing and sustaining meaningful relationships with policymakers is critical to achieving the behavioral health field’s advocacy goals.

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Report Details Medicaid Strategies for Preventing Opioid Abuse

November 6, 2014 | Addictions | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) has released a report on “State Medicaid Interventions for Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse and Overdose.” The report, which summarizes current practices and emerging opportunities for state Medicaid agencies to more effectively prevent prescription opioid abuse and overdose, offers helpful recommendations for states and providers.

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Post-Election Update: What Does It Mean for Behavioral Health?

November 5, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments

Charles Ingoglia

Senior VP, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Yesterday’s election provided a Republican wave that outpaced most pollsters’ predictions. As of this morning, Republicans picked up 7 seats, giving them a 52-43 advantage and control of the Senate. The most likely breakdown for the 114th Congress is a 54-46 Republican majority in the Senate and with 17 races yet to be called, the GOP holds an advantage of 243-175 in the lower chamber.

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National Council Releases Integrated Managed Care Guide

November 5, 2014 | Integrated Care | Medicaid | Comments

Nina Marshall

Director of Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council is pleased to release an update to our managed care contracting paper, Ensuring Access to Behavioral Healthcare through Integrated Managed Care: Options and Requirements. Created for state government officials and advocates, this paper is designed to have upstream impact on contracts between MCOs and State Medicaid agencies. Chock full of sample contract language and interview questions for MCOs, this paper can be used during the procurement, contracting, and oversight phases of managed care implementation. Do you know when your state’s managed care contracts will next be renewed?

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