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Archive: October 2018

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 Trump Signs Opioid Package into Law

October 25, 2018 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments

Stephanie Pasternak

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, President Trump signed into law a sweeping bipartisan opioid package (H.R. 6) passed by the House and Senate earlier this year. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) promotes many National Council priorities, including expanding access to treatment, strengthening the behavioral health workforce and supporting behavioral health information technology. While the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act is an important step toward curbing the opioid epidemic, a more comprehensive response that invests in the full continuum of addiction services is needed to address the nation’s addiction crisis.

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SAMHSA Releases First Annual CCBHC Report to Congress

Shelley Starkey

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), a new comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment model that is currently active in eight states, have been transforming care across the country since they launched in mid-2017. As required by the legislation that gave rise to CCBHCs, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued its first annual report to Congress on the status of the program late last week. The report outlines the genesis of the CCBHC program, the process that clinics have undergone to become CCBHCs, the current status of the program’s implementation, and long-term sustainability efforts.

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New Rule Would Limit Immigrants’ Medicaid Access

October 11, 2018 | Medicaid | Take Action | Comments

Stephanie Pasternak

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the Trump Administration formally published a rule that would allow legal immigrants to be denied lawful permanent residency if they enroll in Medicaid or other public benefits. The proposed rule would expand the definition of “public charge,” a test that determines if immigrants are likely to become dependent on government for subsistence, to include federal health, housing and nutrition programs. The National Council strongly opposes the rule as it would deter immigrant families from seeking health care coverage, harming the health of millions of adults and children. The proposed rule is subject to a 60-day comment period, meaning comments on the rule will be accepted until December 10.

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32 States Get A Failing Grade on Parity

October 4, 2018 | Parity | Comments

Stephanie Pasternak

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

A newly released report evaluates the strength and quality of state laws created to ensure that health insurers treat illnesses of the brain, such as depression and substance use disorders, the same way they treat illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer. The report assigns failing grades to 32 states, while the state of Illinois is identified as having a model state statute. The report offers recommendations for how states can improve their parity laws to ensure equal access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

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Opioid Package Expands Telemedicine for Behavioral Health

Shelley Starkey

New provisions that would expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) via telemedicine were included in the sweeping package of opioid legislation (H.R. 6) that has been passed by Congress and now awaits the President’s signature. The National Council for Behavioral Health applauds Congress for acting on this issue and taking up our recommendations, and remains committed to further expanding access to these evidence-based treatments through telemedicine.

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Latest DEA Guidance Offers Little “New” Information for Community Behavioral Health Providers

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) jointly released guidance on telemedicine and the prescribing of opioids for treatment of opioid use disorder. The National Council has long been advocating for changes to be made to DEA regulations restricting how behavioral health medications that are controlled substances can be prescribed via telemedicine. While the guidance is meant to promote the use of telemedicine during the opioid crisis, it offers little “new” information and instead reiterates what is and is not permitted under current law.

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