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Mollie Laird

Associate, Federal Policy

Build Back Better Act, HHS 2022 Regulatory Priorities

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BREAKING NEWS 

Yesterday, President Biden signed legislation that will raise the debt ceiling. The new limit is expected to last into 2023 without need for another vote. 

 

Editor’s Note: Capitol Connector will return January 2022. Happy Holidays! 

 

Main Stories:

  • Build Back Better Act in the Senate
  • HHS Releases Regulatory Priorities for 2022
  • MACPAC December Meeting
  • New CMS Guidance and Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule

Build Back Better Act in the Senate

The Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committees released their sections of the Build Back Better Act this week. Notably, the Senate Finance section includes funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) and expands the option to participate in the demonstration program to all states. The Senate Parliamentarian continues its review of the Build Back Better Act text under the Byrd rule.

 

HHS Releases Regulatory Priorities for 2022

The Biden Administration has released previews of its regulatory priorities for 2022 as part of its ‘Unified Agenda’. The Department of Health and Human Services’ plan includes addressing behavioral health needs. The Department intends to propose two rules to extend telehealth flexibilities for substance use disorder treatments, particularly, permanently allowing take-home methadone and buprenorphine via telehealth programs. Additionally, parity and privacy will also be priorities for the Department. To read the full statement, click here.

 

MACPAC December Meeting

On December 9 and 10, the Medicaid Access and Payment Advisory Commission (MACPAC) convened for its monthly public meeting. The Commission discussed topics, including the transparency of directed payments for Medicaid managed care, health equity, and Medicaid statistics from 2021. Of note, the Commissioners discussed options to strengthen the integration of behavioral health services through health information technology. Specifically, there was support for creating new behavioral health electronic health record standards and certifications at the federal level as well as financial incentives to help spur participation and integration efforts.

 

New CMS Guidance and Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule

CMS recently released guidance to State Medicaid Directors outlining new requirements for states to report certain data on Medicaid supplemental payments in their programs. These new reporting requirements were mandated by last year’s end-of-year legislative package. CMS specified that states must now report the amount of supplemental payments made to each provider, among other new information.

Additionally, the calendar year (CY) 2022 Physician Fee Schedule, published last month, includes information for Medicare-enrolled Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) and established a new code for a higher dose of naloxone nasal spray. Following the Public Health Emergency (PHE), CMS will allow OTPs to conduct audio-only interactions when audio-video is not available. In that time, CMS expects OTPs to add two modifiers on claims for providing counseling and therapy through audio-visual and audio-only telecommunications. In November, CMS also issued an interim final rule to keep the methadone payment amount at the CY 2021 rate for CY 2022 – you can submit comments here by January 3, 2022.

 

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HAPPENING ON THE HILL

New NIH Director Announced. Secretary Becerra of Health and Human Services announced last week that Dr. Lawrence Tabak will become Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Tabak has served as the principal deputy director and the deputy ethics counselor of NIH since August 2010.

SAMHSA Webinar on Harm Reduction Grant Program. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will hold a webinar on Dec. 20, 2021, at 2pm ET to review the requirements of a new grant program for harm reduction funded by the American Rescue Plan. The goal of the program is to increase access to a range of community harm reduction services and support harm reduction service providers as they work to help prevent overdose deaths and reduce health risks often associated with drug use. To join the webinar, click here.