House Panel Examines 21st Century Cures Mental Health Initiatives
Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act’s mental health provisions was the topic of a Congressional hearing last week. Lawmakers sought updates on the Administration’s progress in strengthening the behavioral health workforce and mental health parity enforcement. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), testified to her agency’s progress in addressing these initiatives as well as other pressing mental health and addiction issues.
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Suicide Hotline Bill Passes House
The House has passed the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, a bill that could spur the development of a three-digit code (like 411 or 611) to act as a national suicide prevention hotline. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing and other bill supporters say a new three-digit code, specifically catered toward mental health crises, would help divert individuals from the unnecessary use of 911 emergency services. After passing the House overwhelmingly, the bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
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CMS Proposes Overhaul of Medicare Billing Standards
Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its proposed rules for the 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and Quality Payment Program (QPP). The proposed rules update payment rates and key policies applicable to physicians and other professionals under Medicare. Among the key changes, the proposed rule would reduce billing documentation requirements, expand telehealth options and potentially create a bundled payment for the care and management of substance use disorders (SUD) in Medicare.
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National Council Launches GOTV Campaign, Webinar
The 2018 Midterm Elections are fast approaching, NOW is the time to get out the vote!
In political advocacy, the first and most important step is deciding who will represent you and your community in Washington, D.C. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is committed to helping increase voter engagement among Americans living with mental illness and addiction and their families. To this end, National Council is calling on its members to get out the vote and run Voter Registration drives in their organizations this summer and fall.
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Court Blocks Kentucky’s Medicaid Work Requirements
On June 29th, a district court judge blocked Kentucky’s waiver request to require Medicaid enrollees to work or participate in a job-related activity for at least 80 hours per month or lose their health coverage. The court ruled that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had not properly considered whether the initiative would violate Medicaid’s central objective of providing medical assistance to the state’s citizens. The decision could have broad implications for other states hoping to limit Medicaid enrollment through work requirements.
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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 19 Health Spending Bill
Just before the July 4th recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced 12 bills as a first step to setting funding levels across the federal government for Fiscal Year 2019, including a package for key health, education, and labor programs. A key focus in the proposal is combating opioid addiction, which marks a 1,275% increase in funding over the past 4 years for prevention, treatment, recovery, and research programs. As currently written, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would see significant increases in their topline budgets.
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House Appropriators Approve Health Spending Plan for FY 19
The House Appropriations Committee approved its Labor-HHS budget for fiscal year 2019, funding key federal health, education and labor programs for the year ahead. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) saw increases of more than $400 million to its programming, though several key programs maintained level funding to prior years, and a fund to support the expansion of Certified Behavioral Community Health Clinics (CCBHCs) faces elimination.
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