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Archive: September 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.

House Passes Mental Health First Aid Act

September 29, 2016 | Mental Health First Aid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Monday, the House chamber unanimously approved the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s version of H.R. 1877, the Mental Health First Aid Act of 2015. This legislation authorizes grants for mental health and substance use awareness training to law enforcement, first responders, teachers, and other individuals that work with youth. The National Council issued the following statement on this important action.

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Congress Passes Short-term Budget, Includes CARA Funding

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, both chambers of Congress approved a short-term continuing budget resolution (CR), level-funding the federal government through the November elections. While political observers widely expected the passage of a CR, this resolution pleasantly surprised many advocates by containing $37 million dollars in additional money to begin funding implementation of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The bill will provide $7 million of that allotment on October 1, which is the prorated amount of total funding over the life of the short-term resolution.

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National Council Hosts Briefing on Early Intervention, Mental Health First Aid

September 29, 2016 | Mental Health First Aid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Monday, the National Council for Behavioral Health joined the Eating Disorders Coalition to host a congressional staff briefing on Capitol Hill. The briefing focused on the importance of early identification of mental health and substance use disorders and the need for evidence-based trainings that help Americans understand how to reach out to someone experiencing a crisis. Mental Health First Aid was highlighted as one of these trainings.

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BHECON Panelists Call for Expanding Young People’s Access to Behavioral Health Care in Connecticut

Jacquelyn Sommer

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Expanding patient access to behavioral health care and increased coordination among clinics, physicians, law enforcement and policymakers could dramatically improve the lives of individuals living with mental illness in Connecticut. That was the key takeaway at the BHECON forum that took place in Bridgeport, Connecticut, last week.

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Key House Committee Approves Mental Health First Aid Act

September 22, 2016 | Mental Health First Aid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved its version of the Mental Health First Aid Act (H.R. 1877). This legislation authorizes grants for mental health and substance use awareness training to law enforcement, first responders, teachers, and other individuals that work with youth.

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New House Bill Aims to Curb Youth Opioid Use

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Earlier this month, Congresswomen Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced legislation to help youth with opioid use disorders connect to addiction treatment services. The Youth Opioid Use Treatment Help Act (H.R. 5956) or YOUTH Act authorizes $5 million in grants for medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs that serve children, adolescents, and young adults, and includes “young adults” as eligible recipients of youth substance use services under the Public Health Service Act.

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CMS Announces New Accountable Health Communities Funding Opportunity

September 22, 2016 | Medicaid | Medicare | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new funding opportunity as a part of the Accountable Health Communities (AHC) innovation model. The AHC model aims to address a critical gap between clinical care and the health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, like housing insecurity, hunger and interpersonal violence. Community-based organizations are eligible and encouraged to apply.

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House Committee Approves Federal Juvenile Justice Law

September 22, 2016 | Children and Youth | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce unanimously approved the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963), which would expand behavioral health services to justice-involved youth as a part of a larger plan to prevent juvenile delinquency.

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Mental Health First Aid Act Passes House Subcommittee

September 15, 2016 | Mental Health First Aid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health amended and approved the Mental Health First Aid Act (H.R. 1877) on Monday afternoon. The amended bill would authorize $15 million in funding to provide mental health awareness training to teachers and school personnel, first responders, law enforcement officers, and veterans. This vote, a landmark achievement for this legislation, is the first of a multi-step bill approval process.

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House Committee Convenes Hearing on Mental Health Parity

September 15, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held an informational hearing examining the implementation and enforcement of federal mental health and addiction parity laws and regulations. This hearing is the culmination of conversations that took place during the debate of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act back in June. The Subcommittee engaged providers, behavioral health organizations, and consumers on the implementation of parity requirements, federal and state enforcement efforts, and consumer awareness and access to insurer coverage documents.

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Physicians Paid Under Medicare Get More Time to Adjust to Reporting Requirements

September 15, 2016 | Medicare | Comments

Jacquelyn Sommer

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Providers will now have a year to adjust to the quality measures tied to their reimbursement rates under Medicaid. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continues to announce new guidelines ahead of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization ACT (MACRA) final rule expected by November 1st. In this latest announcement, CMS announced a more flexible approach to the roll out of MACRA, allowing clinicians to essentially “pick their pace of participation” in the upcoming year.

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CMS Releases Draft List of Essential Community Providers for 2018 Plan Year

September 15, 2016 | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Health care providers have until October 15th to be added to the Essential Community Provider list for the 2018 benefit year. The list is used by Qualified Health Plans in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces to meet ACA contracting requirements. QHPs operating in the health care marketplace must contract with at least 30 percent of the available “essential community providers” in their service area to ensure network adequacy for consumers.

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CMS Releases Federal Disaster Preparedness Requirements

September 15, 2016 | Medicaid | Medicare | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule this week to prevent breakdowns in patient care following natural disasters and other emergencies. These new requirements will directly impact certain mental health providers, including organizations registered with Medicare as Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs), as well as organizations that may offer mental health services like Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Rural Health Centers, and Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs). The rule requires detailed and coordinated emergency plans for federal, state, and local emergency systems. Affected providers have until November 15, 2017 to implement the new requirements.

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New Report Highlights Policy Considerations for Implementing Medicaid Per-Capita Spending

September 15, 2016 | Federal Budget | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, the US Government Accountability Office released a report examining key policy considerations for the implementation of a per-capita cap in Medicaid spending. Per-capita spending would implement a set rate at which states could be reimbursed per enrollee. A perennial goal of the fiscal conservatives in Congress, per-capita spending aims to rein in spending by exerting greater control of federal dollars spent in Medicaid costs, allowing for better budget predictability.

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Congress is Back, Funding Debate Takes Center Stage

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

With a potential government shutdown looming on October 1, legislators from both sides of the aisle returned to DC this week ready for a fight on funding for Fiscal Year 2017. As Capitol Connector has reported in the past, both chambers of Congress have made slow progress on finalizing appropriations for FY2017, making a short-term, omnibus spending package the most likely path forward. With just over three weeks until the Oct. 1 deadline, party leaders are stuck on not only the funding levels of any spending package, but the length of that spending package as well.

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Medicaid Transformation Discussed at Illinois BHECON Forum

September 8, 2016 | Medicaid | Comments

Jacquelyn Sommer

, National Council for Behavioral Health

There is hope for a stronger and more comprehensive behavioral health care system in Illinois. That was the message heard by a packed room of attendees at the August 30 BHECON forum in Normal, Illinois. Created as a means to unite diverse stakeholders around discussions of behavioral health policy, BHECON’s first event in Illinois focused on the state’s recently released Medicaid Transformation Waiver and opportunities to strengthen its proposals.

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Obama Administration Awards Money to Fight Opioids, Fund PDMPs

September 1, 2016 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced the allocation of new grant funding to fight the nation’s growing opioid use and abuse epidemic. $53 million will be shared across 44 states and the District of Columbia to expand access to treatment, enhance data collection and curb abuse of opioid across the country. These grants will fund prescriber training and education, increase access to medication-assisted treatment and increase the prevalence of opioid overdose medications like Naloxone.

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