Senate Fails to Pass “Skinny” ACA Repeal
In the early hours of Friday morning, the Senate failed to advance its “skinny” Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill. The bill would have served as a substitute to effectively replace the underlying House-passed health care legislation and move the debate to a conference committee with the House. The measure was defeated by a 49-51 vote with three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John McCain (R-AZ) — joining all 48 Democrats in opposing the bill. The National Council thanks all Senators who opposed this dangerous proposal and other repeal votes from earlier in the week. We also thank and commend all advocates who contacted their Senators to vote “NO” on the bill.
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National Council Hosts Congressional Briefing on Integrated Care Program
On Monday, July 24, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing held a briefing for Congressional staff on the importance of the SAMHSA Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration (PBHCI) program. PBHCI supports the integration of behavioral health care into primary care settings, with the goal of improving physical health status in people with serious mental illness (SMI) and addiction. This staff briefing, sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), highlighted grantees from Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
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House Bill Would Create Behavioral Health EHR Demonstration Program
Bipartisan legislation to encourage behavioral health providers to adopt electronic health records (EHR) was introduced in the House last week. Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced their bill, H.R. 3331, which would task the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) with creating a demonstration project to incentivize the use of these EHR systems in various settings, including mental health and addiction treatment organizations.
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NIDA Hosts Briefing on Prevention of Opioid Use Disorder
On Tuesday, July 25th, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, among other organizations, sponsored a Congressional briefing on preventing opioid use disorder (OUD) through community-based approaches. The panelists, ranging from prevention experts and scientists to prevention program administrators, underlined the urgency of utilizing substance use prevention to address the opioid crisis.
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National Council, The Hill, Janssen Host Event on State of Mental Health Care
On Tuesday, the DC-based newspaper The Hill hosted an event with the National Council and Janssen to explore current innovations and challenges in the delivery of mental health care around the U.S. Panelists at the event, titled “The State of Mental Health Care: Challenges and Solutions,” highlighted the important role of Medicaid in ensuring access to care and shared information about how states are working with consumers, family members, hospitals and jails to help connect people to treatment.
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Senate Health Bill: Revised, Dead, Alive Again?
In a whirlwind week on Capitol Hill, the Senate health care plans have gone from revised to dead to alive again. As of this writing, GOP Senators are working together to bridge the divide between the party’s more moderate and conservative wings. It remains to be seen whether there are enough votes to pass the legislation, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote – on something – early next week.
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House Budget Cuts SAMHSA, Preserves Mental Health First Aid, Integration Grants
The House Appropriations Committee approved its Labor-HHS budget for Fiscal Year 2018, funding key government health, education and labor programs for the year ahead. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) saw cuts of more than $300 million to its programming, though several key programs maintained level funding to prior years.
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State Officials Share Best Practices on Curbing Opioid Epidemic
State officials testified before Congress last Wednesday to discuss their responses to the opioid epidemic, which claimed the lives of over 59,000 Americans in 2016. Officials from Rhode Island, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky showcased their states’ successes in combating this crisis and identified needed supports from the federal government.
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House Resolution Recognizes Importance of Trauma-Informed Care
A bipartisan House Resolution would promote the national recognition of trauma-informed care and its use within the federal government’s programs and agencies. The Resolution outlines outstanding programs and initiatives across the country, recommends the designation of a national trauma-focused awareness month, and establishes language for Representatives to refer to when discussing trauma and its treatment.
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Senate Unveils Revised Health Care Bill, Vote Likely Next Week
The Senate unveiled the latest version of the its health care bill on Thursday. The bill retains almost all of the harmful Medicaid provisions from the original text while including a new provision that further threatens access to adequate coverage and affordable care in the individual and commercial insurance market. The revised text does include the widely reported $45 billion for opioid addiction treatment. A vote is expected on the bill next week.
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House Subcommittee Approves FY2018 Funding Levels for Key Health Programs
On Thursday evening, the appropriations subcommittee that covers health care programs approved funding levels for relevant government programming for Fiscal Year 2018. Earlier this year President Trump called for extensive cuts to Medicaid, key health programs and non-defense spending. The subcommittee followed his lead, approving over $3 billion in cuts from its extensive jurisdiction.
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Recess Update: Lawmakers Face Strong Reaction on Health Care Bill from Constituents, Press
From town halls, to parade routes, to local front-page news reports, lawmakers are hearing from their constituents this 4th of July recess. The topic of discussion: the Senate health care bill. Congress returns to Washington on Monday, July 10 where it is expected to continue debate and negotiations on the controversial health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. A vote on the legislation is expected the week of July 17.
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New CBO Report Estimates Long-Term Impact of Senate Health Bill
A new 20-year analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released last week projects that the Senate’s health care bill will result in drastic Medicaid cuts beyond those previously reported. Adding additional context to its original 10-year analysis, CBO estimates that the gaps in Medicaid spending will continue to increase after 2026, putting even greater pressure on already cashed-strapped state budgets to fund the difference.
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Senate Bill Aims to Bolster Addictions Treatment Workforce
A new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate last week with the strong support and advocacy of the National Council would help to bolster the addictions treatment workforce by extending scholarships and student loan repayment opportunities to qualifying providers working in certain addiction settings. The Strengthening the Addiction Treatment Workforce Act (S.1453) would add addictions treatment facilities to the National Health Service Corps’ list of eligible sites for loan forgiveness, providing an incentive to providers who seek jobs at these facilities in underserved communities.
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