Senate Committee Holds Mental Health Hearing, Linda Rosenberg Testifies
On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee convened a hearing to discuss the status of mental health in America. Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, testified before the Committee, highlighting the challenges facing the behavioral health system and how the Excellence in Mental Health Act and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) can and should be the answer.
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House Committees Approve Opioid Legislation
On Wednesday, two House committees overwhelmingly passed a number of opioid-related bills, setting the stage for time on the House floor this May. The two committees – the House Judiciary Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee – are the lead committees of jurisdiction on measures related to curbing the nation’s opioid epidemic. House leadership has made clear its plans to combine these separate initiatives into one bill that will ultimately resemble the Senate-approved Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
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House Panel Moves on Opioid Legislation
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee approved a dozen bills related to opioid abuse treatment, prevention and recovery supports. Speaking on the prospects for an opioid bill in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) indicated that while the House will take up several amendments related to opioid legislation, the final product will ultimately resemble the Senate’s measure, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
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Independent Commission Recommends Changes to Medicare Part D
An independent payment advisory panel this week finalized a package of recommendations to Congress that would implement a number of harmful changes to the Medicare Part D program. The panel, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), recommended that Congress remove antidepressant and immunosuppressant drugs from the protected classes, change low-income beneficiary cost-sharing, and implement other reforms. These recommendations, if enacted, would greatly limit access to needed medications for patients across the country.
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New Mexico Behavioral Health Providers Cleared of Fraud Allegations
Last week in New Mexico, the state Attorney General, Hector Balderas, cleared the last two of 15 behavioral health providers of allegations of Medicaid fraud. The 13 other providers were cleared earlier this year. The move came after several years of investigation, in which Medicaid payments to the affected agencies were halted and many were forced to close their doors.
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Finalized CMS Policy Increases Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment
New policies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will require Medicare Part D formularies to allow access to medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders such as buprenorphine, naloxone and naltrexone. The policy is a response to President Obama’s October call to action, having the federal government identify barriers to treatment for opioid use disorders. CMS said it will continue to review utilization management and formulary tiering to ensure access throughout Medicare Part D.
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