National Council Survey Shows Providers’ Policy Priorities
In a few short weeks, Members of the 116th Congress will begin work on Capitol Hill. A new Congress equals new opportunities to improve the lives of individuals and families impacted mental illness and substance use disorders. To help prepare for the new Congress, the National Council’s Policy and Advocacy team recently surveyed National Council members to gather input on federal policy priorities for 2019 and beyond.
The National Council’s Policy Survey allowed members to describe their top policy priorities in an open-ended format. Throughout the responses, clear themes emerged and are reflective of much of the National Council’s day-to-day work. The top five policy issues National Council members highlighted were:
- Preserving and expanding Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics through the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Expansion Act (S. 1905/H.R. 3931).
- Increasing and improving funding for mental health and addiction treatment services. Most commonly, members stressed the need for better reimbursement rates to providers to cover the actual costs of providing services. Other comments expressed a desire for more federal funding opportunities and more flexibility with the allowable uses of Medicaid and federal grant dollars.
- Strengthening the behavioral health workforce, including through the expansion of student loan forgiveness opportunities.
- The National Council secured a provision in the recently-enacted Opioid package to create a new federal student loan forgiveness program for individuals working in addiction treatment and recovery support. We have also supported legislation to create a similar program for mental health professionals.
- Stronger enforcement of mental health and substance use disorder parity law.
- Protecting Medicaid funding and coverage. Respondents wanted to protect Medicaid’s funding structure from block grant proposals and also prevent barriers to coverage for consumers, such as Medicaid work requirements.
Also of note, extending Medicare reimbursement to services provided by marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and licensed professional counselors (LPCs) was cited several times. This reflects a longstanding National Council priority and is addressed in National Council-sponsored legislation, Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 1879/ H.R. 3032).
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION
The National Council’s policy agenda is ever-evolving to adapt to the changing needs of our members and political environment here in Washington, D.C. We invite you continue sharing with us your challenges in serving patients and bringing your ideas for policy solutions forward. Many of our recent victories on the Hill – including creating a student loan forgiveness program for addiction treatment professionals and expanding prescribing for controlled substances via telehealth – were ideas brought to us directly by our members.
Members are always encouraged to reach out to the National Council’s Policy and Advocacy team to share ideas, questions or concerns. Feel free to share your thoughts with Michael Petruzzelli at email@example.com or Stephanie Pasternak firstname.lastname@example.org. All ideas are welcome – we want to hear from you!