Linda Rosenberg Speaks at National Addictions Rally in Philadelphia
On Tuesday, National Council President and CEO Linda Rosenberg participated in a series of events on mental health and addictions in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention. A similar event had taken place in Cleveland the week before. In Philadelphia, Ms. Rosenberg participated in rallies and moderated expert panels discussing the present and future policies of mental health and addiction advocates. From expanding the ACA to enforcing parity to funding CARA, the daylong event in Philadelphia highlighted the achievements of the last decade and laid the foundation for continued progress in the future.
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House Appropriators Advance Health Spending Bill for FY2017
Last Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $161.6 billion Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS) spending bill for Fiscal Year 2017. This bill is responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others. The approved bill represents a $500 million decrease in overall funding for these programs compared to FY2016 and nearly $3 billion below the levels requested by President Obama.
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Success of CARA Inspires More Addiction Legislation
A day after congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), Senators Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced legislation that would encourage providers to use the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act would limit state grants directed to combat opioid use to states that require prescribers to use a PDMP.
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CARA Passes the Senate, Now Heads to White House
With near-unanimous support, the Senate approved the first standalone legislation to address our nation’s opioid and overall addiction crisis on Wednesday night. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) now heads to President Obama for his signature, and we hope that he will sign it quickly. We thank Congress for recognizing the problem and taking action, and we are particularly grateful to CARA’s champions in the House and Senate whose tireless efforts helped bring this bill to passage.
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Opioid Conference Convenes, Makes Progress on Final Bill
Members of the opioid conference committee continued efforts to finalize the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act this week. During discussions, members from both parties offered and withdrew amendments, making clear the two parties are working closely together to find common ground on a final CARA bill. Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Fred Upton (R-MI) noted at the conclusion of Wednesday’s meetings that a final version of the bill could be ready for consideration by the end of the week.
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House Approves Mental Health Bill, Eyes Now Turn Towards Senate
On Wednesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at improving the nation’s mental health system. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) – first introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy in 2013 – passed by a 422-2 vote and now awaits action from the Senate before heading to the White House. On the Senate side, a companion measure was approved earlier this year but has yet to receive consideration on the floor. HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) says he is hopeful the Senate will take up that measure in September.
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HHS Announces Latest Actions to Address Opioid Abuse
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week announced several new initiatives to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. These include: raising the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) prescriber cap to 275 patients per practitioner, delaying proposed reporting requirements for providers, and announcing more than a dozen new scientific studies on opioid use and abuse. HHS is also seeking feedback on how to improve and expand government prescriber education and training programs to prevent opioid misuse and overdoses.
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Appropriations Season Continues, But Omnibus Likely as Process Slows
Appropriations season continued this week in Washington when the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS approved its FY2017 funding measure. Overall, the bill allocates $161.6 billion for next year, representing a decrease of $569 million compared to FY2016. The introduction of this funding measure, however, does not signal additional promise that Congress will finalize the government’s budget through regular order. According to reports on Capitol Hill, an omnibus spending bill – combining all of the appropriations bills together – is likely for 2017.
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