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Archive: March 2017

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.

Health Reform Update: Administration Can Change Health Care Without Congress

March 30, 2017 | ACA | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Advocates rejoiced last Friday when Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from consideration. The proposal would have rollbacked back the Medicaid expansion and limited Americans’ mental health and addiction coverage and care with structural reforms to Medicaid. However, with Congressional action likely on hold, the National Council is monitoring ways in which the Administration could make changes the nation’s health care system, including potentially harmful reforms to the Medicaid program.

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President Trump Pushes Budget Cuts for FY2017

March 30, 2017 | Federal Budget | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

With government funding set to run out on April 28, 2017, President Trump submitted a last minute FY2017 budget request, calling for an $18 billion reduction in spending for non-defense discretionary programs. These savings will be used to pay for increases in defense spending and funding for border security. For mental health and addiction advocates, this proposal would mean dramatic cuts to key health programs like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

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Mental Health First Aid Heads to Capitol Hill

Shelley Starkey

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

On Friday, March 24, the National Council for Behavioral Health hosted briefings on Capitol Hill to address the importance of Mental Health First Aid trainings for law enforcement officers who regularly respond to calls involving persons in mental health or addiction crises. The panel included three law enforcement officers from across the U.S. who discussed the impact that Mental Health First Aid has had on their communities and departments.

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President Trump Announces White House Efforts on Opioid Addiction

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to help communities heavily impacted by opioid and heroin addiction. This week his administration took the first steps towards developing a national strategy on drug addiction by announcing the creation of a new White House commission on opioid addiction and naming a new acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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Bill Encouraging Trauma-Informed Care Introduced

March 30, 2017 | Children and Youth | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Thursday, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced the latest version of the Trauma Informed Care for Children and Families Act, a bill designed to help identify and aid children who have experienced violence-induced trauma. The legislation creates funding opportunities to expand trauma-informed care across multiple sectors including health care, education, and law enforcement. The bill is a potential vehicle for incorporating the science of adverse childhood experiences and trauma into federal policymaking.

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Latest Changes to Health Care Bill Would Hurt Medicaid, Behavioral Health

March 23, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Conversations continued this week on Capitol Hill as congressional leaders and White House officials worked to solidify support for the American Health Care Act. On Monday evening, House Republicans released large scale amendments to the bill including more restrictions on Medicaid expansion, providing states the option to turn Medicaid into a block grant, and allowing for the implementation of a work requirement in Medicaid. As of this writing, the House has yet to vote on the measure, but a vote is expected on Friday.

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Congressional Briefing Highlights Value of Recovery Housing

March 23, 2017 | Addictions | Uncategorized | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Thursday, the National Council partnered with Facing Addiction to host a Capitol Hill briefing on the effectiveness, challenges, and opportunities of recovery housing. The hearing featured testimony from Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act sponsors Sens. Portman (R-OH) and Whitehouse (D-RI), recovery housing operators, policy and legal experts, as well as personal stories from former recovery housing residents. The hearing focused on the integral role recovery housing plays in helping individuals achieve long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and demonstrated the need for Congress to provide greater support for recovery housing.

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CBO Reports ACA Replacement Bill Would Slash Medicaid Funding, Coverage

March 16, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) will in result in dramatic reductions to Medicaid coverage and cuts to spending, according the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis released this week. Over the next ten years, the AHCA is projected to cut $880 billion dollars from Medicaid, shifting the burden of these costs to states. These cuts to Medicaid and rollback of Medicaid expansion will result in a loss of coverage for an estimated 14 million beneficiaries. The CBO report is the latest wedge causing divisions within the Republican caucus.

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Medicaid is a Human Issue

March 16, 2017 | Uncategorized | Comments

Joy Burwell

Director of Communications, Policy and Practice Improvement

You have seen a lot of numbers detailing the impacts of the health care repeal bill, known as the American Health Care Act. It is easy to get caught up in the numbers, but it is important to remember those numbers represent people. People like Katie. Katie started taking pain pills in high school and soon found herself taking up to eight a day. Thanks to Medicaid she is getting treatment and working on her college degree in biology.

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Trump Releases FY 2018 Budget, Cuts Discretionary Spending

March 16, 2017 | Federal Budget | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Earlier this week, President Trump released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. Most significantly, the President requested that Congress cut $54 billion in nondefense discretionary spending to offset a $54 billion increase in defense spending. Cuts to nondefense discretionary spending mean cuts to health and education services and programs, including programs for mental health and addictions.

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Senate Confirms Seema Verma as CMS Administrator

March 16, 2017 | Medicaid | Medicare | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Monday evening, the Senate confirmed Seema Verma as the next Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Ms. Verma – best known for her work on Medicaid issues and her close ties to Vice President Mike Pence – designed Indiana’s Medicaid expansion model known as Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0. As leader of CMS, Ms. Verma will work closely with HHS Secretary Tom Price to oversee and implement any major health care measures that Congress passes.

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Congressional Briefing Addresses Mental Health Disparities for Black Women

Shelley Starkey

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

The Congressional Caucus for Black Women and Girls hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill last Thursday, highlighting mental health issues affecting women of color. The briefing, titled “What Makes Black Girls Blue?” addressed the complex intersections of mental health, race, and gender and featured the perspectives of community treatment providers, public officials, and researchers. The panelists offered potential solutions for overcoming barriers to mental health care, including greater mental health awareness and more culturally competent care.

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ACA Replacement Bill Slashes Medicaid, Behavioral Health Services

March 9, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Monday, the U.S. House released the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill contains provisions that, if enacted, could devastate Americans’ mental health and addiction coverage and care. The proposal pays for reforms in the commercial health care market by dramatically cutting funding from Medicaid, the single most important funder of mental health and addiction services in this country. Approved by the House Ways and Means Committee early Thursday morning, the proposal remains under consideration by the House Energy and Commerce Committee t

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Leaked Draft GOP Health Plan Receives Mixed Reactions from Congress, Governors

March 2, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congress returned from recess this week and continued work on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. This week focused on the leaked draft GOP health care plan which has received opposition from both the left and right. While Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) promised party unity for the draft plan, factions have […]

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Governors Divided on Health Care Reform

March 2, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

At the National Governors’ Association winter meeting last weekend, discussion focused on health care reform and included closed-door meetings with HHS Secretary Tom Price and President Trump. During the weekend of bipartisan meetings, multiple tensions erupted regarding Medicaid expansion and instituting block grants or per capita caps for Medicaid. Ultimately, governors walked away from the event without a clear path forward for health care reform.

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