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Archive: March 2019

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.

Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act Reintroduced

Shelley Starkey

Policy & Advocacy Coordinator

A bipartisan bill that would extend and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model was introduced Thursday (3/14) in both chambers of Congress by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ […]

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President Trump Releases FY 2020 Budget Proposal

March 15, 2019 | Federal Budget | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Monday, President Trump unveiled his Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request — calling for $4.7 trillion decrease in federal spending and detailing his Administration’s priorities for next year. The document revives efforts to block grant Medicaid and restrict eligibility, maintains spending to combat opioid addiction, and outlines other major health care priorities. As with most presidential budgets, this proposal stands little chance of being enacted into law as written. Instead, the President’s budget proposal will act more as a messaging tool to Congress, which is currently working to develop and pass a budget for FY 2020 over the next few months

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Congressional Briefings Discuss Threats to Mental Health Medication Access

Shelley Starkey

Policy & Advocacy Coordinator

A recently proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), if enacted, would threaten Medicare Part D participants’ access to critical prescription drugs including those often needed by individuals living with mental illness. The Partnership for Part D Access, of which the National Council for Behavioral Health is a founding member, hosted […]

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Push to Expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Continues

Shelley Starkey

Policy & Advocacy Coordinator

The National Council for Behavioral Health has been at the forefront of developing a national model for mental health and addiction treatment called Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), created under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. CCBHCs have been filling the gap in the unmet need for addiction care, supporting local criminal justice systems by providing effective diversion and reentry solutions, and increasing access to evidence-based behavioral health treatment across the country. As the end of the CCBHC demonstration looms, the National Council remains committed to expanding this critical and effective model.

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Congressional Briefing Urges Congress to Empower Addiction Workforce

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

Addiction workforce advocates presented on the Hill this week as part of a congressional staff briefing exploring opportunities for Congress to better equip front-line providers to prevent and treat opioid and other addictions. The hearing featured testimony from Mary-Catherine Bohan, representing a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) from New Jersey, who shared how the CCBHC model is transforming her clinic’s ability to hire addiction treatment professionals and serve more patients.

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Mental Health Treatment Wrongly Denied by Insurance Giant

March 8, 2019 | Mental Health | Parity | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

In a landmark ruling, a federal court held Tuesday that health insurance giant United Behavioral Health (UBH), which serves over 60 million members and is owned by UnitedHealth Group, used flawed internal guidelines to unlawfully deny beneficiaries access to mental health and substance use treatment in an effort to cut costs. The ruling marks a validation for patients and providers who have long raised concerns that health plans were not fulfilling the requirements set forth in the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which established parity between the coverage of behavioral health and medical/surgical benefits.

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Tonko, Turner Reintroduce Bipartisan Addiction Treatment Bill

March 8, 2019 | Justice | Medicaid | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Policy & Advocacy Coordinator

A bipartisan bill that would allow states to restart Medicaid coverage for eligible incarcerated individuals up to 30 days before their release from jail or prison was introduced this week by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Michael Turner (R-OH). The Medicaid Reentry Act (H.R. 1329) is an important step toward improving access to much-needed mental health and substance use services for one of the most vulnerable populations in the country.

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