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Archive: May 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.

President Requests Deep Cuts to Medicaid, Health Programs in FY2018

May 25, 2017 | Federal Budget | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, President Trump called for deep cuts to Medicaid, key health programs and non-defense spending in his budget request for FY2018. The budget request, “A New Foundation for American Greatness”, calls for the restructuring of Medicaid, while also dramatically cutting funding for key mental health and addiction programs through the Department of Health and Human Services.

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CBO Projects Huge Coverage Losses as Congress Continues Work on Heath Reform

May 25, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) will result in dramatic reductions to Medicaid coverage and cuts to spending, according the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) updated analysis released this week. Over the next ten years, the AHCA is projected to roll back Medicaid coverage for 14 million low-income Americans and cut $834 billion dollars from the program, shifting the burden of health care costs to states. Also, this week, the Senate discussed possible paths forward for health care reform as House members worked to advance a package of smaller measures aimed at the individual insurance market.

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Congressional Briefing Showcases Unique Mental Health Treatments for Military Members

Shelley Starkey

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

The Congressional Mental Health Caucus collaborated with the Military Mental Health Caucus last Wednesday to host a briefing showcasing specialized treatment options for active military members and veterans. The panelists included providers from the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, dog trainers from the Warrior Canine Connection, and a bipartisan group of Congressional Representatives.

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Capitol Hill Briefing Examines How IMD Rule Restricts Addiction Treatment

May 25, 2017 | Addictions | Medicaid | Comments

Nissa Shaffi

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Last week, the Treatment Communities of America, in cooperation with the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force and the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, held a Congressional staff briefing on the Medicaid Institute of Mental Diseases (IMD) Exclusion, its impact on addiction and recovery services, and necessary steps to address the issue.

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As Bipartisan Health Care Talks Occur, GOP Taps Two to Reform Medicaid

May 18, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Health reform deliberations continued in the Senate this week amongst not only the leadership tapped group of Republicans, but also among a more moderate group of GOP legislators and Democrats. Reports from Capitol Hill indicates the August recess as a deadline for legislation to be passed out of the Senate. However, much remains to be seen on where and how a majority group will emerge. National Council advocates are encouraged to remain diligent in their outreach and advocacy.

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National Council Joins Others in Urging State Substance Abuse Agencies to Support Recovery Housing

May 18, 2017 | Addictions | Comments

Stephanie Pellit

Associate, Policy and Advocacy

The National Council, alongside the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR), urged State Substance Abuse (SSA) directors to support recovery housing as part of their Opioid State Targeted Response (STR) program in a letter last week. Recovery residences are safe, healthy, and substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction. Recognizing that recovery housing is an essential resource for helping individuals achieve long-term recovery, the National Council calls upon SSAs to invest Opioid STR funding in recovery housing and support recovery houses that uphold national recovery housing quality standards.

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Bill to Expand Bed Limit of Residential SUD Treatment Reintroduced in the Senate

May 18, 2017 | Addictions | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A new bill in the Senate would modify existing Medicaid payment prohibitions and expand the bed limit for residential treatment facilities serving persons with substance use disorders. Known as the “Institutes of Mental Disease (IMD)” exclusion, this payment exclusion prevents Medicaid from providing federal matching funds for services provided in residential substance use settings with more than 16 beds, hindering patients’ access to care. Similar legislation was introduced in the last Congress but was never voted on.

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Health Experts Agree: Insurance “Across State Lines” Still Possible

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

As health care debate and reform continues on Capitol Hill, one long-term conservative goal that still remains is the prospect of selling insurance across state lines. Such a development could be potentially disastrous for addiction and mental health providers across the country as experts fear plans would kick-off a “race to the bottom” and sell insurance from states with fewer mandates and regulations. As the Senate continues deliberations on health reform legislation, it is imperative advocates stay informed and engaged to prevent these devastating policy changes.

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SAMHSA Releases CARA Funding Opportunities

May 18, 2017 | Addictions | Federal Budget | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released two new funding opportunities authorized by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016. Applications for both grant opportunities are due July 3, 2017, and a combined 16 awards are available.

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Senate to Craft New Health Reform Bill

May 11, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Following the House’s narrow advancement of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), action on health reform now turns to the Senate. Many Senators have expressed concerns about AHCA, leading the upper chamber to begin drafting its own health reform proposal. The passage of a health reform package in the Senate is far from certain, giving advocates opportunities to weigh in and share their concerns.

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President Trump Considers Proposing Drastic Cuts to ONDCP

May 11, 2017 | Addictions | Federal Budget | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In a leaked document from the Office of Management and Budget, President Trump is considering proposing a 95% cut in funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy for FY2018. Such a cut would leave just $24 million in funding compared to $388 million the year prior. Immediate effects could see over 30 employees fired, crucial grant programs eliminated and ongoing work left undone. The National Council rejects this proposal and will work hard to ensure proper funding of this important office.

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White House Announces New Members to Opioid Commission

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The White House has named four new members to President Trump’s commission on fighting opioid addiction. The commission, led by Jared Kushner and Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), was created back in March to tackle and combat the nation’s ongoing opioid addiction and overdose crisis. The new members include two governors, a former congressman in recovery and an addiction researcher.

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Breaking Addiction Act Reintroduced in Congress

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Legislation to expand Medicaid patients’ access to residential substance use treatment has been introduced in the House by a group of Ohio lawmakers. The Breaking Addiction Act of 2017 would allow state Medicaid programs to cover residential addiction treatment in facilities of 16 or more beds. The bill is intended to help states build more capacity for addiction treatment as they work to address the opioid crisis.

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Congressional Briefing Highlights Children’s Mental Health

May 11, 2017 | Children and Youth | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

On Monday, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health partnered to host a Congressional briefing titled, “The Benefits of Collaborative Care for Children’s Mental Health.” Kicking off National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, providers, officials, and family members discussed the prevalence of childhood mental illness, the lack of resources to address these illnesses, the importance of collaborative care, and potential solutions to the problem.

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House Passes AHCA, Puts Mental Health and Addiction Care in Jeopardy

May 4, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Yesterday, the House narrowly passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repealing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and massively cutting the Medicaid program by $882 billion. The bill passed following the addition of an amendment that rolls back essential health benefits and protections for those with pre-existing conditions. The revised AHCA poses an even greater threat to individuals with mental health and addiction disorders and the providers that serve them. The bill now moves to Senate for consideration where a lengthy debate is expected.

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Budget Deal Passes Congress, Increases Funding for SAMHSA, NIH

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Over the weekend, Congress reached a $ 1.1 trillion omnibus budget deal that will fund the government through the end of the 2017 fiscal year. Contrary to President Trump’s proposed budget, funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is set to increase and the legislation adds more money for efforts to combat opioid addiction. The measure was passed quickly this week by both the House and Senate in order to meet federal government’s May 5 funding deadline.

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Industry Experts: President Trump’s Tax Plan Could Hurt Nonprofits

May 4, 2017 | Uncategorized | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Last week, the White House and the U.S. House released the broad outlines of an upcoming effort to dramatically overhaul the U.S. tax code, amounting to a massive tax cut for both individuals and corporations. Nonprofit industry experts warn that both proposals could result in a big hit to bottom line for nonprofit organizations by changing to the amount of money taxpayers can write off and increasing the standard deduction. A timeline on when either package may be considered in Congress remains unclear and most analysts predict the proposals are a starting point for negotiations, not a final package.

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