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Archive: June 2016

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.

CARA Authors Urge Comprehensive Approach to Compromise

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In a letter to their colleagues on the opioid conference committee, authors of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) urged a holistic approach to negotiations. The letter – signed by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) – demonstrates the broad, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for achieving results to combat the nation’s opioid abuse crisis. Conference negotiations will resume next week when Congress is back in session.

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Advocates Provide Input, Send Letters to Opioid Conferees

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

As members of the House and Senate begin meeting to hammer out differences in their respective opioid bills, advocates are stepping up to have their voices heard. Over the last few weeks, the National Council has joined a chorus of patient protection and advocacy organizations in sending letters of thanks, guidance and request to members of the opioid conference. These letters are just the latest in a series of advocacy efforts to ensure the passage of a comprehensive, effective and well-funded opioid package.

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House GOP Releases Plan to Repeal and Replace the ACA

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other House GOP leaders unveiled their alternative to President Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While the plan does not include a number of specific details including the overall cost and total number of covered individuals, it does present a broad outline of a potential GOP health reform agenda for the next administration. As in the past, this initiative includes a number of proposals that would directly repeal ACA provisions as well as revamp current practices in Medicare, Medicaid and marketplace health care coverage.

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National Council Hosts Addictions and Vocation Briefing on Capitol Hill

Lea Simms

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

On the heels of Hill Day, the National Council, on Tuesday, hosted a congressional staff briefing addressing the importance of offering employment services simultaneous to addiction treatment. The diverse panel represented nonprofit, public, and privately-funded treatment centers giving the packed audience of congressional staffers insight into how funding and recovery services can be replicated in their states. Using case studies and client stories, the speakers highlighted the stability that employment provides and the importance of holistic treatment for reintegration into the community.

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Take Action: Submit Your Comments on MACRA Regulations

June 23, 2016 | Medicare | Quality | Take Action | Comments

Elizabeth Arend

Quality Improvement Advisor

Thank you to all who provided input on the National Council’s comments on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) Proposed Rule. Considered one of the most significant pieces of Medicare legislation in decades, MACRA eliminates the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, and establishes a new Quality Payment Program that will fundamentally change the way in which Medicare reimburses clinicians. Public comments on the proposed rule are being accepted through Monday June 27, 2016.

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Mental Health Bill Approved by Committee, Now Heads to House Floor

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a revised version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646). Introduced and championed by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), the bill now heads to the House floor where it awaits consideration from the full chamber. According to reports, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) aims to bring the bill up for a vote by the full House this summer. There is currently no companion mental health bill in the Senate, though similar measures have been introduced.

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House Committee to Consider, Vote on Mental Health Reform Bill

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, June 15, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will convene a hearing to consider and vote on a revised version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), originally introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). The draft bill reflects a few changes pushed by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), including codifying a limit on Medicaid coverage for inpatient mental health care at institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) – Per the final Medicaid managed care rule – and dropping language that would loosen Health Information Portability Accountability Act (HIPPA) restrictions.

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Hundreds of Advocates Speak Up, Take Action on Capitol Hill

June 9, 2016 | Hill Day | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the National Council partnered with 14 national advocacy organizations to host National Council Hill Day 2016! Nearly 600 advocates met with hundreds of 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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Senate Subcommittee Approves Health Spending Bill

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education approved funding for key health and education programs for the first time in seven years. This bill funds critical programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and more. The FY2017 funding measure now awaits consideration from the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Mental Health Reform Could be Tied to Addictions Legislation

June 9, 2016 | Uncategorized | Comments

Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

Last week, rumors circulated on Capitol Hill that a mental health reform bill might be added to the opioid legislation that is currently being worked on by a conference committee. The idea is being floated by several congressional aides who are suggesting the possibility of adding the Mental Health Reform Act (S.2680) sponsored by Chris Murphy (D- CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to the opioid legislation in conference.

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Senators Host a Bipartisan Summit on Mental Health

Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

Last week, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) hosted a summit on mental health, aimed at drawing national attention and support for their bipartisan bill, the Mental Health Reform Act (S. 2680). The event brought together mental health advocates and field experts to discuss challenges and opportunities in the behavioral health care delivery system. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) were also in attendance and both voiced support for the legislation. Senator Alexander noted, “out of all the major pieces of legislation that remain to be worked on, this has as good as a chance as any” for passage.

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Linda Rosenberg to Participate in Parity Discussion: Share Your Experiences

June 2, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Friday, June 10, National Council President and CEO Linda Rosenberg will participate in a listening session with Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli. The discussion will cover issues related to parity implementation and enforcement.

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