What’s Coming Down the Hill? An Update on Congress in 2016
Over the last several months, Capitol Connector has written over 50 stories about mental health and substance use legislation in the 114th Congress. From bill introductions to committee hearings to votes, every major development has been shared with our readers. And in two weeks, when President Obama submits to Congress the final budget recommendations of his administration, mental health and addictions will again take center stage. So where do all of these bills stand? What should be expected from Congress in the run up to Election Day 2016?
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Health Panel Advises Depression Screenings During and After Pregnancy
On Tuesday, a US medical panel recommended that all adults, including pregnant and postpartum women, get screened for depression. This is the first time the US Preventive Services Task Force – an independent panel of scientists – specifically advised mental health screenings for women during and after pregnancy. Insurers will now be required to cover depression screenings without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act’s list of preventive services.
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Opioid Epidemic the Focus of Senate Hearing on Wednesday
On Wednesday, Senators, Governors, federal administrators and law-enforcement officials all testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for stronger efforts to combat the nation’s opioid and heroin abuse epidemic. The hearing focused largely on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524/ H.R. 953) – which invests millions of dollars in needed funding for prevention, treatment and recovery supports. Despite strong bipartisan support, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) delayed a vote on the bill until next week, noting that “we’re not there yet, but we are working hard.”
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Senate Health Committee Holds Mental Health Hearing
On Wednesday, the Senate committee responsible for health care engaged providers and advocates in discussing areas of needed improvement while it works to achieve comprehensive reform. The hearing, convened before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, focused primarily on the provisions of the Mental Health Reform Act (S. 1945) – comprehensive legislation […]
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Sect. of Agriculture Vilsack to Lead Charge Addressing Opioid Epidemic, Other Issues in Rural States
This week, President Obama announced Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will lead a new interagency effort focused, in part, on addressing the growing heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping the nation. Secretary Vilsack, the President’s longest serving cabinet member, has been charged with developing policy solutions that build on successful work being completed at the state and local level to combat the use and abuse of opioids and heroin, along with other issues that affect rural states.
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Dept. of Education, HHS Work to Better Connect Health and Educational Services
This week, the Education Department and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a collection of resources to help states better connect health and education services. According to the release, the two agencies came together to increase access to health insurance, improve mental and physical support for students and families and strengthen coordination between health and education systems in states and school districts.
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New Parity Bill Aims to Hold Insurers Accountable for Behavioral Health Coverage
Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) has continued the work of his family, former Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), in ensuring that all Americans have access to quality behavioral health care. Through increased oversight and random annual audits, Rep. Kennedy aims to ensure that insurance providers are meeting their regulatory requirements in offering mental health services care at parity with medical care services.
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New Bill Would Invest Millions in Curbing Nation’s Opioid Epidemic
A new bill in the Senate would invest over half a billion dollars in emergency funding to help curb the nation’s opioid and heroin abuse epidemic. The funding measure – introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – would provide supplemental emergency funding to critical programs in the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services.
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Executive Gun Order Clarifies Existing Law on Reporting Mental Illness
This week, the Obama administration announced a series of Executive Orders aimed at reducing gun violence. Among its many provisions, the rule clarifies existing federal law on the required reporting of mental health information to the federal government background-checks system for gun purchases. As under current law, the new regulation does not require physicians directly involved in patient care to engage in the reporting process, but instead gives state agencies improved flexibility to report pertinent information.
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New Resources Page for First Episode Psychosis
This week, the National Council launched a new resources page on first episode psychosis. The website includes information about the clinical, workforce, training and financing elements for successful adoption of early intervention models of care for psychosis. Similar to other chronic health conditions, the sooner symptoms are identified and a treatment program is put into action, the more likely it is for a patient’s overall condition and health status to improve.
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