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Archive: February 2015

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.

Democrats, Republicans Take Different Approach to CHIP Reauthorization

February 26, 2015 | Children and Youth | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is set to expire in October and members from both parties have offered solutions as to how to extend it beyond 2015. These solutions offer differing timeframes of reauthorization; maintain or eliminate different pieces of the program; and propose different requirements of states for whom to offer health coverage. While House and Senate Democrats have officially introduced legislation, House and Senate Republicans have released a draft bill, welcoming comments from stakeholders.

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Congressional Leaders Introduce Legislation to Stem Medicare Fraud

February 26, 2015 | Medicare | Uncategorized | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Legislation introduced in the House this week aims to reduce Medicare fraud and abuse and strengthen the integrity of the program. Among its many provisions, the bill would create a Part D plan drug management plan to prevent prescription drug abuse. In this program, beneficiaries deemed “at risk of prescription drug abuse” would only be eligible to receive and fill prescription from specific providers and in specific pharmacies.

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CMS Extends Meaningful Use, PQRS Deadline until March 20

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended reporting deadlines for 2014 Meaningful Use and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) until March 20, 2015. The Meaningful Use extension applies only to the Medicare Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program. The extensions do not affect deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

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HHS Announces Grant Opportunities for Interoperable Health IT

February 24, 2015 | Health Information Technology | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A new funding opportunity from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would offer states a chance to build and advance health IT services in their community-based health organizations. The funding opportunity for states – the Advance Interoperable Health Information Technology Services to Support Health Information Exchanges – specifically targets organizations that did not receive EHR incentive payments through the HITECH Act in 2009 and have so far been kept out of the EHR incentive program, including behavioral health organizations.

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Bipartisan Group Introduces Veterans’ Treatment Courts Legislation in the House

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House would authorize veterans’ treatment courts, helping veterans living with addiction and other mental health conditions receive specialized care when accused of certain non-violent crimes.

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National Council Sends Finalized CCBHC Comments to SAMHSA

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council submitted finalized comments earlier this week to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on draft certification criteria for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). SAMHSA extended the deadline for comments on these criteria for CCBHCs: the comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder providers authorized by legislation based on the Excellence in Mental Health Act. Thank you to all advocates who submitted comments before Wednesday’s deadline.

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House Holds Hearing on ICD-10 Transition: Green Light for 2015

Nancy Htay

Policy Intern

Last week, the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on implementation of ICD-10 and readiness to transition to the new code set on October 1, 2015. The general sentiment? Green light.

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Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Reintroduced in Both House, Senate

February 18, 2015 | Addictions | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, members in both chambers of Congress reintroduced legislation aimed at combatting the opioid epidemic. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act invests much-needed funding in prevention, evidence-based treatment, and recovery supports to help Americans struggling with addiction to heroin or narcotic painkillers.

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SAMHSA Extends Deadline for CCBHC Comments to Feb 18

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has extended the deadline for comments on draft certification criteria for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs): comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder providers authorized by the Excellence in Mental Health Act. The deadline for comments is tomorrow February 18, 2015.

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More Change is Coming to Health Care: Be Prepared with Effective Leadership at Every Level

February 12, 2015 | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Change is afoot in health care with the rollout of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, new health care reform legislation, and a new budget season just beginning. Organizations need strong leadership to guide them through these challenging times and set them up for continued resilience in the future. That’s why the National Council has always offered an array of leadership and workforce development programs for leaders at every level of your organization.

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National Council Submits Comments on HHS Health IT Strategic Plan

February 12, 2015 | Health Information Technology | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Late last year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an updated draft of its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Last week, the National Council submitted comments on the plan, urging HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) to work to expand incentive payments to behavioral health providers for the adoption of electronic health records.

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Senate Unanimously Confirms Michael Botticelli as Director of ONDCP

February 12, 2015 | Justice | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week the Senate unanimously confirmed Michael Botticelli as the next Director of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in a 92-0 vote. Botticelli, who had been Acting Director of ONDCP, brings more than two decades of experience and leadership supporting people struggling with substance abuse problems, their families and their communities.

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What are CCBHCs? What does it mean for you? Come Learn at NatCon15!

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

As you may have heard, the Excellence in Mental Health Act became law in 2014. This is the most significant behavioral health law in a generation and this year a key portion of the law will begin to rollout – Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). Join us in Orlando for the CCBHC Track at the annual National Council Conference!

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SAMHSA Releases Draft Excellence Act Certification Criteria: Responses Due Monday

Nina Marshall

Director of Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released draft certification criteria for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), the comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder providers authorized by legislation based on the Excellence in Mental Health Act. The open comment period for the 71 pages of criteria is two weeks, and comments are due this coming Monday, February 16.

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CMS to Consider Limited Exceptions to Medicaid Payment Exclusion for Residential Substance Use Treatment

February 10, 2015 | Addictions | Medicaid | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is exploring ways for states to use Section 1115 Medicaid waivers to cover certain residential substance use treatment services, said the agency in a letter to Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL). The letter came in response to a recent request from Senator Durbin and 17 of his Senate colleagues urging CMS to use its statutory authority to revise the current payment exclusion policy that prevents community-based substance use treatment providers with more than 16 beds from participating in Medicaid.

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Group of GOP Legislators Introduces Health Reform Legislation

February 10, 2015 | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Three key Republicans members of Congress unveiled legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, presenting the latest alternative to GOP lawmakers who have long debated how to supplant President Obama’s chief legislative accomplishment. The legislation – introduced by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI)—would impose per-capita caps on federal Medicaid spending and would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual and employer insurance coverage mandates.

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President’s 2016 Budget Proposes $44.6 Million Increase for SAMHSA, Reversal of Sequestration Cuts

February 5, 2015 | Federal Budget | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would see a $44.6 million increase in its funding for 2016 under the budget proposal released this week by President Obama. The $4 trillion budget also lifts spending caps imposed in 2011 and restores more than $70 billion in sequestration cuts while achieving $399 billion in health care savings, according to the White House.

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Draft Block Grant Application Outlines Changes in Use of Funds; National Council Releases Summary

February 5, 2015 | Federal Budget | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Proposed changes in next year’s block grant application could affect the way funds are used for addiction and mental health services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s draft of the FY2016-2017 Block Grant application introduces several important changes from prior years, including placing greater emphasis on data collection and integration while also introducing a provision that would allow the Substance Abuse and Prevention Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant to be used to cover co-payments for people in substance use treatment.

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National Council: The Business Case for Reducing Cost, Expanding Treatment for Mental Illnesses and Addictions

February 5, 2015 | Integrated Care | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council has published two business case reports offering behavioral health providers and advocates the information and strategies they need to make the case for the benefits of effective mental health and substance use disorder treatment. As payers and health system partners such as hospitals or Accountable Care Organizations consider how best to incorporate behavioral health into their delivery models, these case reports lay out the argument that integration of behavioral and physical health is not just good for the patient, but also good for providers’ financial bottom line.

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Final Rule on Background Check Mental Health Data Advances

February 5, 2015 | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A federal regulation to allow the sharing of pertinent mental health information during a background check for the purchase of a firearm is in its final stage of review by the Obama Administration.

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