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Archive: Addictions

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.

Medicaid Work Requirements to be Enacted in Indiana

February 8, 2018 | Addictions | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

Indiana is now the second state to receive approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a waiver request that imposes work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries to maintain coverage. Indiana’s Section 1115 waiver also enacts a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Program which will include coverage for residential treatment in Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) and will increase premiums for beneficiaries who use tobacco and are not engaged in tobacco cessation activities. The National Council for Behavioral Health strongly opposes work requirements and any attempts to restrict access to needed behavioral health services.

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ONDCP Could See 95% Budget Cut

Shelley Starkey

The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) faces a second threat of losing 95 percent of its budget under President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 proposal, according to Politico. Defunding ONDCP would directly contradict the Administration’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency, as the office is responsible for coordinating the federal response to the crisis. The National Council opposes this proposal, and will continue to work to ensure proper funding for this important office.

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Opioid Use among Teens at Historic Low with Vaping and Marijuana on the Rise

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey results highlighting historic lows of cigarette, heroin and methamphetamine use and increases in vaping and marijuana use among adolescents. The study surveyed over 47,000 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade in both public and private schools nationwide on their substance use and attitudes towards particular drugs.

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HHS Updates HIPAA Guidance, Highlights Responses to Opioid Epidemic

December 21, 2017 | Addictions | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments

Shelley Starkey

On Monday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rolled out a bundle of new resources and initiatives that aim to address the ongoing opioid crisis. These new tools and initiatives are part of an obligation under the 21st Century Cures Act to ensure that the public understands the implications of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

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Congressional Briefing Highlights Medicaid’s Role in Addiction Treatment

December 14, 2017 | Addictions | Medicaid | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Wednesday, the Partnership for Medicaid, a coalition that includes the National Council, hosted a Congressional briefing on the importance of Medicaid in supporting innovative addiction care. The day’s discussion focused on how Medicaid provides individuals with substance use disorders access to comprehensive care that not only addresses their addiction, but their physical and mental health needs. The briefing featured testimony from National Council member Mark Miller of Swope Health Services, who highlighted how Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) are leading the way in behavioral health care innovation and expanding access to addiction treatment.

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House Bill Aims to Increase Transparency, Research On Effective Opioid Crisis Responses

Shelley Starkey

Last week, Representative Bob Latta (R-OH), along with three Republican cosponsors, introduced a bill that would create a public electronic database of information and strategies to combat the opioid crisis. The Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl and Opioids (INFO) Act (H.R. 4284) would create a position of Federal Coordinator within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to oversee the implementation and coordination of this public database in partnership with other government agencies.

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National Council Joins Commitment to Improve Access and Quality of Addiction Treatment

November 9, 2017 | Addictions | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Wednesday, 16 health care payers representing more than 245 million lives adopted eight National Principles of Care for the treatment of addiction. As a result, the payers have agreed to identify, promote and reward substance use disorder treatment that aligns with the National Principles of Care. The principles emphasize universal screening, personalized treatment planning and access to evidence-based treatment and recovery support services. This initiative is part of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force, launched in April 2017 by Shatterproof and includes the National Council as a member.

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House Bill Seeks to Increase Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment

Shelley Starkey

In September, Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced a bill that would expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders. The Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act (H.R.3692) would allow new provider types to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication utilized in MAT, and would increase the number of patients that qualified physicians could treat.

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CMS Issues New Guidance on Waivers of IMD Rule

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter to State Medicaid Directors outlining a new waiver process to allow Medicaid payment of a broad range of services for opioid and other substance use disorders (SUD), including residential treatment. The letter, issued in response to President Trump’s declaration of an opioid public health emergency, promises states a “more flexible, streamlined” 1115 Medicaid waiver approval process to accelerate state’s ability to respond to the opioid epidemic. While this move could present an opportunity for states to expand their continuum of care for addiction, strict budget neutrality requirements and heightened state reporting requirements may prove too burdensome for states to realistically pursue this option.

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Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Combat Opioid Crisis

Shelley Starkey

Last week, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the “Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act.” The bill calls for Congress to invest $45 billion toward prevention, detection, surveillance, and treatment of opioid addiction. This legislation seeks to combat an epidemic that took the lives of over 33,000 Americans in 2015. The National Council applauds the Senators for their leadership on this issue, and looks forward to supporting their efforts to see this bill through Congress.

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President Trump Declares Opioid Epidemic a Public Health Emergency

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Earlier today, President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. While the National Council is pleased to see the President recognize the opioid crisis as a public health emergency, today’s announcement comes without any new funding to respond to the epidemic and the specifics of the declaration are still unclear.

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House Committee Holds Hearing on Combating the Opioid Crisis

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The House Energy and Commerce Committee convened a hearing to review the federal government’s response to the opioid epidemic on Wednesday. Lawmakers sought a status update on the implementation of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the 21st Century Cures Act, and various grant initiatives and from the heads of the top agency leads within the Department of Health and Human Services. The hearing reflected a bipartisan consensus that more resources are needed to tackle a disease that claims the lives of 91 Americans every day.

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Feds Approve West Virginia Waiver to Expand Addiction Treatment

October 12, 2017 | Addictions | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Tuesday, West Virginia received approval from the federal government to expand addiction treatment services covered by Medicaid to include residential treatment, methadone, naloxone, and more. The waiver is intended to provide Medicaid enrollees with a more comprehensive array of addiction services and to prevent opioid overdose deaths. West Virginia is the first state to receive approval from the Trump administration to waive an important payment barrier to residential addiction treatment, known as the IMD exclusion.

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Senate Bill Aims to Change Patients’ SUD Record Sharing

September 28, 2017 | Addictions | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

On Monday, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (S.1850). This bill would alter the way substance use treatment records are shared among providers, further aligning the privacy rules and protections with those outlined in HIPAA. The bill closely mirrors legislation introduced in the House earlier this summer by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA).

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Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Holds Discussion on Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

On Monday, September 25th, the Congressional Bipartisan Heroin Task Force held a roundtable discussion on the role of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) in combatting the opioid epidemic. The roundtable — led by task force co-chairs Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) — received insights from two industry professionals on the importance of PDMPs.

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ONDCP Announces $89 Million in Awards for Drug-Free Communities

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Last week, the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the award of $89 million to the Drug-Free Communities Program (DFC). This award will support 719 community-based drug-prevention coalitions, making it the largest number of single-year grant awardees since the program’s founding in 1997.

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Opioid Commission Report Delayed, New Pharmaceuticals Partnerships Formed

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis made news this week with a series of important announcements. First, Commission Chairman Governor Chris Christie announced the commission’s final report would be delayed by one month, pushing the release date to November 1st. Second, he announced a public-private partnership between pharmaceutical companies and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop non-addictive pain treatment therapies.

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SAMHSA, HRSA Announce Awards for Prevention, Treatment of Opioid Addiction, SMI

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a series of awards totaling nearly $350 million to fund increased access to mental health and addiction services. One cohort of awards supports efforts combat the nation’s opioid addiction crisis, funding local and state organizations. The second cohort supports increased access to mental health and substance use services at federally qualified health centers. Funds for these grants were authorized in part by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016.

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President Trump Taps Rep. Tom Marino to Run ONDCP

September 7, 2017 | Addictions | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

President Trump will nominate Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) of the Pennsylvania 10th district to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Rep. Marino – who previously withdrew from consideration for the office in May – has served in Congress since 2010 and was one of the earliest Republican lawmakers to endorse President Trump as a candidate in 2016. The appointment to this position is contingent upon Senate confirmation.

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Indiana Senator Introduces Series of Opioid Bills

August 31, 2017 | Addictions | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) introduced a bipartisan package of bills aimed at combatting substance use disorder in rural communities.  Sen. Donnelly teamed up with both Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) to direct the US Dept. of Agriculture to focus attention on providing facilities and access to telemedicine needed to prevent and treat substance use disorder and addiction to opioids.

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