Understanding What the Bipartisan Budget Deal Does and Does Not Achieve
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan, two-year budget deal that was hammered out over the last few weeks between White House officials and congressional leaders. The Senate is expected to take up the same bill later this week before the November 3rd debt ceiling deadline. While the deal provides limited sequestration relief and paves the way for Congress to avoid a government shutdown in the coming months, it does not fully address the twin issues of Congressional gridlock and a continuing austere budget environment.
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DOL, Advocates Discuss Delayed Implementation of Home Health Care Worker Overtime Rule
On Monday, officials from the Department of Labor (DOL) attended a meeting with patient advocacy organizations, including the National Council, to discuss the implementation of the home health care worker overtime rule. This rule, which was issued back in 2014, extends minimum wage and overtime protections to almost 2 million home health care workers. This rule is different than the overtime proposed rules the Department issued in July that would affect the entire American workforce.
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SAMHSA Announces Excellence Act Planning Grant Awards Winners
On Monday, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced the 24 states that will receive funding as part of the 2014 Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration program. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing congratulates these states receiving funding as part of the $22.9 million grant announcement. When fully implemented, the Excellence Act will infuse over $1 billion into the behavioral health system, making it the biggest federal investment in mental health and addiction services in generations.
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Obama Announces Efforts to Combat Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse Epidemic
On Wednesday, President Obama announced his administration’s latest efforts to combat the growing opioid and heroin abuse epidemic. His announcement, made in Charleston, West Virginia, outlined steps to increase patients’ access to lifesaving treatment and expand the training of prescribers of opioids and other controlled substances. Of particular importance, the President’s initiative aims to increase the use and distribution of naloxone as well as double the number of providers prescribing buprenorphine across the country.
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CMS, SAMHSA Announce Medicaid Coverage Options for Early Intervention in Psychosis
On Friday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an informational bulletin intended to assist states in designing a benefit package to guide early treatment intervention options that will meet the needs of youth and young adults experiencing first-episode psychosis. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created the bulletin through their ongoing partnership to support early intervention services for young adults that experience first episode psychosis.
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2015 Connect 4 Mental Health Awardees Announced
The Connect 4 Mental Health Community Innovation Awards recognize organizations introducing novel approaches to address mental health in early intervention, creative use of technology, continuity of care and service integration. The recently announced winning organizations for 2015 receive a $10,000 grant and join previous awardees to facilitate best practices.
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Make Your Advocacy Count: Follow-up on Your Hill Visits
With over 600 advocates and ten partner organizations, National Council Hill Day was an overwhelming success. But the hard work is not over yet. Now that advocates are back home in their districts, it is important to follow-up on meetings with legislators and make your advocacy count.
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Introduction of Behavioral Health Legislation Continues on Capitol Hill
Adding to a growing number of bills targeting addiction, Members of Congress this month introduced two new pieces of legislation. The Stop the Overuse Problem Already Becoming a Universal Substance Epidemic (STOP ABUSE) Act (H.R. 3719) authorizes multiple grants to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic including grants to support treatment alternative to incarceration programs.
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600 Behavioral Health Advocates Storm Capitol Hill
This week, the National Council partnered with ten national advocacy organizations to host the largest National Council Hill Day yet! Over 600 advocates met with more than 300 Members of Congress, sharing with them the important messages of funding and supporting mental health and substance use treatment services. The National Council thanks our partner organizations and ALL of our advocates for their tremendous work.
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National Council, Hazelden Betty Ford Host Congressional Briefing on Opioid Epidemic
On Tuesday, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing and Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy co-sponsored a congressional staff briefing focusing on efforts to address the national opioid crisis through expanded and improved education for doctors and other prescribers. The briefing was hosted by the House and Senate Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse.
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Congress Continues Focus on Substance Use and Mental Health Issues
The 114th Congress has introduced dozens of substance use and mental health bills addressing a wide range of issues in behavioral treatment services and funding. This week, two more bills were added to that total. This continued commitment to addressing and enhancing our nation’s behavioral health public safety net is a tremendous sign for consumers, providers, and advocates across the country.
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National Council Wins “Transforming Clinical Practices Initiatives” Award
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $685 million to 39 national and regional collaboratives, including the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, to participate in the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative. The National Council was awarded a four-year grant to provide technical assistance to clinicians serving individuals with serious mental illnesses in New York.
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Speaker of the House John Boehner Announces His Retirement
On Friday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced his intentions to retire from Congress at the end of October. The news shocked the political world and immediately sparked a race for Republican leadership positions in the House of Representatives. As promised on the day of his announcement, the Speaker oversaw the approval of a continuing resolution on Wednesday, funding the government through December 11.
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Senate HELP Committee Moves on Mental Health, Addictions Legislation
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee turned its attention to mental health and addictions legislation this week, voting on and approving two bills and scheduling a hearing for a third later this month. These efforts are an encouraging sign of the progress being made on Capitol Hill and bring hope to advocates on what can be accomplished during the 114th Congress.
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