National Council Announces 2017 Legislative Award Winners
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is pleased to announced this year’s legislative honorees for Hill Day 2017. Each legislator is being recognized for his or her hard work and dedicated commitment to the mental health and addiction community. The National Council will honor each legislator this year at National Council Hill Day October 2-3 in Washington, D.C.
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Indiana Senator Introduces Series of Opioid Bills
Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) introduced a bipartisan package of bills aimed at combatting substance use disorder in rural communities. Sen. Donnelly teamed up with both Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) to direct the US Dept. of Agriculture to focus attention on providing facilities and access to telemedicine needed to prevent and treat substance use disorder and addiction to opioids.
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Webinar Series: Register for the 2017 Suicide Prevention Series
An average of 20 veterans die by suicide every day. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and veterans account for 18 percent of these tragic deaths. This September, in observance of Suicide Prevention Month, experts on the most up-to-date veterans’ suicide data, suicide risk assessment, and prevention tools available will present their findings to clinicians who serve our nation’s veterans.
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National Council Submits Comments on New Medicare Payment Rule
Last week, the National Council submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) on a proposed rule that will make changes to Medicare’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) in 2018. The QPP, which went into effect on January 1, 2017, includes two paths to payment for eligible clinicians who bill Medicare using the Physician Fee Schedule: The Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs). By moving from volume-based payment to payment for quality and value, both systems change the way behavioral health providers are reimbursed under Medicare Part B.
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President Trump Calls Opioid Crisis a ‘National Emergency’
Last week, President Trump called the opioid addiction crisis a “national emergency.” While this is an important step towards fulfilling the White House’s Opioid Commission primary recommendation, no official declaration of emergency has yet been made. An official declaration would give the federal government additional authority to quickly free up funds to respond to the epidemic.
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Cutting ACA Subsidies Would Hike Premiums by 20 Percent, CBO says
A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates a 20 percent increase in health insurance premiums for low income individuals who purchase insurance through an exchange should the Trump Administration end cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies. The CBO report, projecting the effects of ending these ACA payments, comes after months of President Trump threatening to end the CSR payments to insurers. The Administration has made the payments for August and is currently deciding whether make them again in September.
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ACA Exchanges Expanding, Future Still Uncertain
Some insurance companies are stepping in to fill the void of health plans in multiple counties with bare health insurance exchanges across the country. While this bodes well for the stability of exchanges in the short-term, the long-term stability of the individual and small group market is uncertain under the Trump Administration’s repeated threats to discontinue important cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. Meanwhile, some members of Congress are trying to ensure that these subsidies continue regardless of the President’s actions.
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Lawmakers Consider Options on Health Care After “Skinny” Repeal Failure
Amid last week’s failed Senate health care vote, members of Congress continued to weigh potential paths forward on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While it remains unclear exactly what shape the next health reform proposal will take, there appears to be bipartisan support for a measure that addresses stabilizing the individual insurance market in the immediate future. Neither chamber is expected to vote on any major health care measure before September.
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White House Opioid Commission Publishes Interim Report, Recommendations
On Monday, July 31, the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis published its interim report. It included nine recommendations President Trump can take to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, to prevent deaths and provide more accessible and informed methods of treatment for opioid addiction. With 142 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose, the Commission called on the President to declare a state of national emergency. Rumors indicate the President may make this declaration as early as Thursday (8/3) evening.
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Senate Confirms SAMHSA Asst. Secretary, Surgeon General
On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted to confirm a slate of President Trump’s HHS nominees including Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz as the first-ever Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and Dr. Jerome Adams as the new Surgeon General. Prior to the vote, the committee held a hearing to vet both nominees were on their experience and qualifications. The full Senate is expected to take a vote on both nominees in the near future.
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House Bill Aims to Amend 42 CFR Part 2
Last Friday, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced a bill that would change the way substance abuse treatment records are shared among providers. The bill, titled The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 3545), aims to amend federal regulations related to substance use health records (42 CFR Part 2), which currently prohibit widespread sharing of patients’ addiction treatment history.
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Bill Introduced to Renew Teaching Health Centers Program
Last month, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill to reauthorize the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program for three years. The program, currently recruiting and training nearly 1,000 medical professionals across the country, focuses efforts on medical and behavioral health services in rural and underserved communities. Importantly, the program includes psychiatry as a residency option.
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