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Archive: June 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.

House Legislation enables Prisoners to Promptly Regain Access to Critical Benefits Upon Release

June 25, 2015 | Justice | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congressman Andre Carson (D-IL) this week reintroduced the Recidivism Reduction Act (H.R. 2806), a bill that would quickly restore Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Medicaid benefits to eligible prisoners after they are released from incarceration. The National Council supports this legislation, which Rep. Carson has introduced multiple times over previous sessions of Congress but has not yet been enacted into law.

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House, Senate Continue Work on Labor-HHS Funding Bills

June 25, 2015 | Federal Budget | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Appropriations season rolled on in Washington this week with both House and Senate appropriators making progress in setting funding levels for fiscal year 2016. In the House, the full Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Health and Human Services funding bill which would cut $3.7 billion from labor, health, and education programs overall, but would increase funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) by $23 million. In the Senate, the Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee approved its spending bill containing similar overall cuts ($3.6 billion decrease to labor, health, and education programs), and slashing SAMHSA funding by $159 million. That bill now heads to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act in Latest Legal Challenge

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

For the second time in three years, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a major legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, ruling that consumers who purchase health insurance on healthcare.gov are eligible for subsidies to offset their costs.

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House Subcommittee Approves FY2016 Labor-HHS-Education Funding Bill

June 18, 2015 | Federal Budget | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education approved its annual funding bill for Fiscal Year 2016. The bill makes overall cuts of $3.7 billion, with the brunt of these spending reductions falling on the Department of Education. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration was largely spared, with a proposed funding increase of $23 million. The bill now heads to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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National Council Hosts CCBHC Webinar, Releases State Planning Grant Toolkit

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

As you may have heard recently, the implementation of the Excellence in Mental Health Act has begun and the clock is ticking for states to apply for planning grant funds by the August 5 deadline. In a continued effort to support states preparing to apply to become Certified Community Behavioral health Clinics (CCBHCs), the National Council, this week, hosted a CCBHC webinar and released its State Planning Grant Toolkit.

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Bipartisan Legislation Opens Medicare Billing to Additional Behavioral Health Providers

June 18, 2015 | Medicare | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

A newly introduced bill in the House would allow Medicare to cover services provided by marriage and family therapists and licensed mental health counselors. By allowing previously ineligible providers to directly bill Medicare, H.R. 2759 would increase patients’ access to behavioral health providers, specifically in underserved, rural areas.

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Medicaid Managed Care Regulation Authorizes States to Reimburse Behavioral Health IT

Charles Ingoglia

Senior Vice President, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program managed care. Buried within that rule, was language that would allow states to reimburse behavioral health providers, among others, for the adoption and use of interoperable health information technology through Medicaid. This would be an incredibly important opportunity for provider groups that were left out of the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program back in 2009.

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Rep. Matsui Introduces Legislation to Increase Clarity on HIPAA Privacy Rules

June 11, 2015 | Privacy & HIPAA | Uncategorized | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced legislation this week aimed at clarifying often misunderstood guidance regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Specifically, the legislation aims to make clear HIPAA privacy rules as they apply to patients with mental illness by creating training programs to educate providers, patients and families about what health information can be shared and under what circumstances.

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Congressman Tim Murphy Re-introduces Mental Health Reform Bill

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) have reintroduced their bipartisan legislation enacting comprehensive reforms to the U.S. mental health delivery system. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) was first introduced in 2013; the legislation is the culmination of an ongoing series of hearings Murphy has held as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Committee in the wake of the tragic 2012 Newtown shooting.

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Sens. Leahy, Portman reintroduce bipartisan bill to support state and local reentry programs

June 11, 2015 | Justice | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce relapse and provide people leaving prison with post-release supportive services, including substance use and mental health treatment.

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Excellence in Mental Health Act: Why Is It Important to Apply?

Charles Ingoglia

Senior Vice President, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The planning grant is more than just a prerequisite for being selected as one of the demonstration states for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC). It is also an opportunity to engage community stakeholders in assessing ways to identify gaps and opportunities for improving care. We know that by expanding the use of evidence-based practices and coordinating care across health, behavioral health, social and legal systems that we can build healthy minds and strong communities — giving people with mental health and addiction disorders a chance to recover and lead productive lives.

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Bundled Payments, Quality Bonuses: Payment for CCBHCs

Nina Marshall

Director of Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

States will choose between two PPS options: either (1) an FQHC-like daily encounter rate or a (2) monthly rate. Both are triggered by actual encounters with clients – so they are distinct from a capitated or case rate – but will incorporate costs incurred by non-encounter activities (such as care management work). They will also require sophistication on the part of the provider with respect to forecasting the volume and type of services to be delivered for specific populations.

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Are You Ready to be a CCBHC? This Readiness Assessment Will Help You Find Out

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The countdown is on to August 5, 2015: the deadline for states to apply for Excellence in Mental Health Act Planning Grants. As states across the country begin preparing to submit applications, MTM Services and the National Council want to make sure you have everything you need to be ready to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC).

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Don’t Miss Upcoming Webinars on Excellence Act Implementation

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

To help with this learning and answer any questions you may have, the National Council as well as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), are hosting multiple webinars this month to help participants get ready for the August 5 application deadline. The planning grants afford up to 25 states up to $2 million each to start to put together their certification processes and develop their payment methodologies. Only states that receive planning grant funding will be eligible to be a demonstration state – so don’t miss out!

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National Council Releases Template Parity Comments; Submission Deadline is June 9

June 4, 2015 | Parity | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council has finalized our comments in response to the recently released Medicaid parity proposed rule. Our comments commend the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for safeguarding beneficiaries’ access to mental health and addiction care under a variety of delivery system arrangements and for encouraging states to apply parity requirements for all Medicaid enrollees, even those whose coverage isn’t subject to the parity law.

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Sens. Ayotte, Donnelly Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Opioid and Heroin Abuse

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) have reintroduced legislation that will promote the responsible treatment of pain through prescription opioids, as well as take steps to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse. The Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act of 2015 (S. 1134) aims to improve healthcare providers’ and public health officials’ ability to prevent prescription drug abuse; support law enforcement efforts to remove heroin from the streets; give more first responders access to life-saving naloxone (used to counter the effects of opioid overdose), and increase awareness among health care providers, patients, and the public about prescription opioid abuse and heroin.

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