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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.

New Grant Funding for Mental Health and Substance Use, 988 Briefing

May 21, 2021 | Addictions | COVID-19 | Telehealth | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

QUOTABLE “Behavioral health is a priority for the Department of Health and Human Services. The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the need to invest resources in our nation’s mental health and address the inequities that still exist around behavioral health care.” – Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announcing the department’s new Behavioral Health […]

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COVID-19 Telehealth Grants, Updated Buprenorphine Guidelines

April 30, 2021 | Addictions | Telehealth | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

In the week of April 26, the Census Bureau released the 2020 population counts for congressional apportionment over the next decade.

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Loan Repayment Applications Open, New CMHC Grant

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

BREAKING NEWS This week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced a new Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC) Grant Program to help providers bridge the service delivery gap. Read more and apply by May 21, 2021.   CARA 3.0 Introduced Senators Portman (R-OH) Whitehouse (D-RI), Capito (R-WV), Klobuchar (D-MN), and Shaheen (D-NH) recently […]

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PPP Extension Act, Take Action

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

BREAKING NEWS The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it is extending access to the Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment Period until August 15, 2021.   PPP Extension Act Signed into Law Small businesses will have more time to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan thanks to swift action […]

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House Wraps Up Reconciliation, Working on COVID Package

February 19, 2021 | Addictions | Federal Budget | Medicaid | Take Action | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

BREAKING NEWS In accordance with a recent executive order on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid, the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the Health Insurance Marketplace reopened this week and will remain open through Saturday, May 15.   House Wraps Up Reconciliation, Working on COVID Package Last week, House Committees finished work on budget […]

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House Passes Short-Term Federal Funding, Physician Fee Schedule Summary

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

QUOTABLE “COVID-19 has accelerated and expanded our country’s mental health and substance use disorder crisis. Access to treatment – when and where people need it – remains the biggest challenge we face. Unfortunately, insurers have consistently fought to illegally deny equitable coverage and states have lacked the tools to hold them accountable. No longer.” – […]

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FY2021 Appropriations, Finalized Physician Fee Schedule

December 4, 2020 | Addictions | COVID-19 | Medicare | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted on their initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution recommendations. As written, it is unclear if behavioral health providers and organizations are included under the panel’s recommended Phase 1 vaccination distribution category. This also follows a new […]

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Senate Passes Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act, Funding Deadline Looms

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

QUOTABLE “I want to thank Senator Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) for their leadership in introducing the bill, as well as Senators from both sides of the aisle for prioritizing increased access to mental health treatment for incarcerated individuals. This is especially important during a time when our nation’s most vulnerable people are at […]

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House Subcommittee Examines Slate of SUD Legislation

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Shelley Starkey

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on “Combating an Epidemic: Legislation to Help Patients with Substance Use Disorders.” The Subcommittee heard from a slate of panelists including officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as professionals from various health providers and national advocacy organizations. The hearing also included discussion of a slate of 14 bills covering a broad range of approaches to address the addiction crisis in America.

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Experts Weigh in on Continued Efforts to Address Opioid Epidemic

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Shelley Starkey

On Wednesday, The Hill convened policymakers and medical experts to discuss steps to expand access to treatment and help those living with opioid addiction begin the journey toward long-term recovery. During a conversation with Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons praised the National Council for its work to bridge the gap between mental health and addiction treatment and highlighted the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767) as a legislative effort to address these issues.

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ONDCP Releases 2020 National Drug Control Strategy and Rural Toolkit

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently released its annual report on the National Drug Control Strategy as well as a new toolkit to assist rural communities in responding to the addiction crisis. The 2020 National Strategy prioritizes increasing access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and supporting those in recovery with peer services, access to housing, training, education, and employment.

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GAO Report Highlights Barriers to MAT Access in Medicaid

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Shelley Starkey

Although Medicaid is one of the largest sources of coverage for individuals receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT), an evidence-based best practice for treating opioid use disorder (OUD), there remain some roadblocks for patients to access the life-saving treatment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last week highlighting state and federal policy barriers for Medicaid enrollees to access MAT. GAO also included recommendations that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ensure that states comply with federal requirements to cover MAT medications.

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House Committee Convenes Panel on State Efforts to Address the Opioid Crisis

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on how states have used federal funds to address the opioid epidemic. Representatives from five state departments of health spoke on successes through increased Medication-Assisted Treatment, Medicaid expansion, and interventions for justice-involved populations, as well as the critical need for further financial investment, prevention […]

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What to Expect for Behavioral Health in 2020

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Shelley Starkey

From funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics to state Medicaid waivers, 2020 is sure to be a whirlwind for behavioral health and for the health care system at large. While Congress remains split down party lines with Democratic control of the House and Republican control of the Senate, time will tell if any large changes will happen during this election year. Here is a preview of what is likely ahead in health policy in the first year of the new decade.

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Join the Unite for Mental Health: New Hampshire Town Hall on 12/16

December 12, 2019 | Addictions | Mental Health | Comments
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Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

On Monday December 16th at 6:30pm ET the Unite for Mental Health: New Hampshire Town Hall will kick off at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. Presidential candidates Governor Weld and Congressman Walsh will share their mental health plans with attendees and answer audience questions. 2X Olympian and Ironman triathlete Sarah True will share her mental health story and Judge Steve Leifman will screen a trailer from his upcoming documentary and discuss his successes. More tickets were just released, and you can watch via Facebook Live.

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National Council Staff Presents at Congressional Briefing on Addiction

November 21, 2019 | Addictions | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

On Wednesday, Tom Hill, Vice President of Practice Improvement at the National Council, spoke at a congressional briefing on federal and state financing for recovery support services. The briefing, which was hosted by Young People in Recovery, highlighted various funding streams for addiction services, including State Opioid Response (SOR) grants, transferrable tax credits, and Section 1115 Demonstration Waivers.

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House Bill Would Increase Provider Education for MAT

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Shelley Starkey

Policy Associate

The Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act (H.R. 4974) would standardize substance use disorder (SUD) training for providers that prescribe Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) scheduled medications, such as those used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). The bipartisan bill, introduced in the House last week, would help to increase access to high-quality care for individuals living […]

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DEA Misses Deadline for Teleprescribing Special Registration

October 31, 2019 | Addictions | Telehealth | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officially missed its deadline to submit its plans to Congress on how it will execute a special registration process that would allow providers to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine. The directive from Congress was passed in last year’s SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act and was aimed at combatting the opioid crisis by increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). DEA was given one year from the signing of that law to create and release its plan to initiate this special registration process. While the agency admits it missed the deadline, no plans have yet been announced to comply with the law and finalize the special registration process.

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Senate Health Appropriations Language Released

September 20, 2019 | Addictions | Federal Budget | Mental Health | Comments
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Shelley Starkey

With just over one week left until the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations work is due to avoid a government shutdown, the Senate is still working to finalize its funding bills. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee put a pause on their Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending discussions over partisan disputes about what should and should not be included in the bill. Although the Committee has yet to discuss or vote on the bill, its draft text and report were publicly posted on Tuesday, a move that is out of the norm until after a full Committee markup.

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SAMHSA Proposes Changes to Part 2 SUD Privacy Rules

August 29, 2019 | Addictions | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments
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Shelley Starkey

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a proposed rule that would change the way substance use disorder (SUD) treatment records are shared under 42 CFR Part 2. Although the Trump administration does not have the authority to fully align 42 CFR Part 2 with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the administration stated that its proposal aims to “facilitate better coordination of care for substance use disorders, which will also enhance care for opioid use disorder,” according to an official fact sheet on the proposal. Meanwhile, critics expressed concern that the changes to the rule would undermine patient confidentiality and willingness to seek treatment. SAMHSA is accepting public comments on these proposed changes until October 24, 2019.

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