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Archive: August 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.

Apply Now: Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program

August 27, 2015 | Workforce | Comments

Adam Swanson

Senior Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council’s 2015 Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program wrapped up 10-months’ worth of programming in Washington, D.C. this week. The Program fosters mid-level managers working in mental health and addiction service organizations who are eager to gain the awareness, knowledge, and skills to develop and lead strategies to eliminate health disparities within their communities.

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National Council Issues Template Comments on Proposed Overtime Rule

August 27, 2015 | Take Action | Workforce | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

New proposed rules from the Department of Labor would double the current salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay. As a result, employers would be required to pay overtime for employees making up to $50,440 per year. The proposed rule would link this salary to inflation, meaning that the overtime exemption threshold would rise from year to year. Public comments on the proposal are being accepted through September 4, 2015.

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Hundreds March on Washington in First Ever Destination Dignity March

August 27, 2015 | Addictions | Justice | Parity | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Monday, hundreds gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. calling for dignity, rights and support for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness and addictions. The inaugural Destination Dignity March focused on raising public awareness of these illnesses and the systematic discrimination individuals living with these disorders face in the public health and criminal justice systems. The march was organization by a coalition of mental health and addiction advocacy organizations, including the National Council.

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White House Announces Initiative to Prioritize Addiction Treatment

August 20, 2015 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The White House announced this week its Heroin Response Strategy, a new initiative that will encourage and incentivize collaboration among public health and law enforcement officials in an effort to shift the emphasis from punishment to the treatment of people with addictions. Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, said the initiative is part of the Administration’s goal to “expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, increase access to treatment, and reduce overdose deaths.”

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New Federal Funding Will Increase Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment

August 20, 2015 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently awarded funding to eleven states and numerous Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to help increase patient access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services, focusing on treatment for opioid use disorders. Funding administered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will be available to states to expand the use of FDA approved medications in combination with evidence-based behavioral therapies—commonly referred to as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

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National Council Launches Redesigned Parity Website; Adds Section on Enforcement

August 20, 2015 | Parity | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

In light of growing attention to the issue of federal parity law enforcement, the National Council has updated its parity website and added resources on enforcement efforts across the country. The updated site includes a document with summaries on state advocacy activities to increase parity enforcement and a webinar with case studies and strategies for working with State Attorneys General on lawsuits to ensure enforcement.

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HHS Provides Funding to Community Health Centers, Increasing Care Access for Millions

August 20, 2015 | Uncategorized | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week $169 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 266 new health center sites, increasing access to health care services for an estimated 1.2 million people (HHS). The National Council congratulates our members who were selected to receive grants. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), health centers serve 1 in 14 people living in the United States.

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National Council Issues Resource Explaining Proposed Overtime Exemption Rules

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council today released a slide deck to help employers understand the impact of new proposed rules that would extend overtime pay to 5 million previously ineligible workers. The proposed rule change, announced in June, would extend overtime pay exemption rules to include employees making up to $50,440 next year, more than double the current threshold.

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Applications for Health Disparities Leadership Program Launched

August 13, 2015 | Uncategorized | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The next class of the National Council’s Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program has been announced. Through a highly competitive application process, the National Council will choose 24 emerging leaders from across the country to participate in this 10-month intensive program designed to reduce disparities for ethnic, racial, and LGBT populations that receive community-based behavioral health services.

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National Council, AFSP Offer Mental Health Parity Guides Online

August 13, 2015 | Parity | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

In the wake of growing national attention on states’ challenges with parity enforcement, the National Council is re-issuing a series of brochures compiled in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help consumers navigate insurance coverage and understand their rights under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

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Pam Hyde to Step Down as Administrator of SAMHSA

August 6, 2015 | Uncategorized | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Tuesday, Pam Hyde announced she would be stepping down as the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) after nearly six years in the post. Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto will step in to serve as Acting Administrator when Hyde leaves later this month.

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New Legislation Aims to Strengthen Mental Health System, Improve Public Safety

August 6, 2015 | Justice | Comments

Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act (S.2002), which aims to bolster the nation’s mental health system and increase public safety. The bill includes targeted reforms to the mental health system, tactics to improve judicial responses to meet the needs of individuals with mental illness, and funding and resources for programs for justice-involved individuals with mental health conditions.

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Senators Murphy, Cassidy Introduce Comprehensive Mental Health Reform Bill

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Today, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015, comprehensive legislation to reform the U.S. mental health care system. The legislation reauthorizes a number of programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), establishes workforce training and education programs for behavioral health providers, and affirms a commitment to providing evidence-based treatment services throughout federally funded mental health programs.

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