Hill Day 2021 in Review
“We’re committed to achieving mental health parity, expanding access to mental health care, eliminating mental health stigma, and addressing substance use and mental health challenges.” – Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), during Hill Day at Home 2021.
CCBHCs: Achieving Nationwide Expansion and Adoption
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) provide critical care for individuals living with mental health and substance use challenges. The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act (S. 2069/H.R. 4323) would give every state the opportunity to participate in the CCBHC demonstration program and authorize monies for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) CCBHC Expansion Grants, which help provider organizations adopt the CCBHC model and prepare for CCBHC implementation efforts. Take action today to support CCBHCs and the Excellence Act!
Addressing the Workforce Shortage in America
Expanding the Medicare workforce to include marriage and family therapists (MFTs), licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs), and peer supports specialists will dramatically expand access to lifesaving care for Medicare beneficiaries. Two key pieces of legislation aim to immediately expand access to invaluable mental health and substance use care: 1) the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R. 432) would add an estimated 225,000 providers to the Medicare workforce by allowing MFTs and LMHCs to be reimbursed by Medicare, and; 2) the Promoting Effective and Empowering Recovery Services (PEERS) Acts (S.2144/H.R. 2767) would allow for the participation of peer support specialists in the Medicare program.
Fulfilling the Promise of 988
With a July 2022 launch date for 988 fast approaching, significant investments are needed to improve and expand the suicide prevention, mental health, and substance use crisis care continuum. Last September, Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S. 2661/H.R. 4194), which created a three-digit dialing code (988) for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 988 will serve as the main connection point between suicide prevention, mental health, and substance use crisis response services. Join us in urging House and Senate leadership to include our recommendations to transform and coordinate our nation’s crisis care continuum in preparation for 988.
Curbing our Nation’s Substance Use Crisis
2020 saw more than 93,000 people lose their lives to drug overdoses, a 20% increase from 2019. Curbing our nation’s overdose epidemic requires removing regulatory hurdles to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), standardizing prescriber education practices, and expanding access to care for the most vulnerable in our communities. Three bills are currently being considered by Congress, and, if passed, would expand access to treatment services and bolster the workforce: the Mainstreaming Addiction treatment (MAT) Act (S.45/H.R. 1384), the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act (S.2235/H.R. 1384), and the Medicaid Reentry Act (S.285/H.R.955).
Advocacy Tip of the Week. Check out our Advocacy Handbook! The Handbook has tips and tricks for virtual meetings with legislators, as well as templates for scheduling meetings and sending follow-up emails. Please share with your colleagues and let us know if you have any questions. Also, be sure to sign up for our Advocacy Alerts to ensure you never miss an alert from the National Council!
HAPPENING ON THE HILL
Hill Day by Numbers. Thank you all for attending Hill Day at Home 2021 – over 800 advocates logged on to join us live and sent 1,550+ messages to 249 Members of Congress! If you missed Hill Day at Home, you can still register to view the content here and send a message to your legislator. Don’t forget to register for NatCon22, where there will be plenty of more policy and advocacy opportunities to get involved!
CMS Updates POS Codes for Telehealth. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Place of Service (POS) Workgroup recently made updates to the current POS code set for providers billing Medicare for telehealth services. Changes include revising the description of POS code 02 and creating a new POS code 10.