Congressional Forum Addresses Black Youth Suicide
The Congressional Black Caucus’s Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide recently hosted its fourth forum, “Hearing Their Stories: Students and How They Handle Their Mental Health.” Members of Congress heard from five students, as well as Susan Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine, and Dr. Cheryl Grills, Professor, Loyola Marymount University. The panelists provided recommendations for Congressional action to address mental health concerns among black youth.
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Sen. Cornyn Introduces Bill to Expand Resources for Mental Health Treatment
This week, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) joined a group of his colleagues in the Senate to introduce the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts (RESPONSE) Act (S. 2690). Within this wide-ranging bill, there are provisions the National Council supports including increasing access to mental health treatment, such as promoting collaboration between the mental health and criminal justice systems and supporting school-based behavioral intervention teams. The National Council shares the Senators desire to increase access to mental health treatment and recovery.
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Legislation Would Improve Mental Health Services in Schools
The Mental Health Services for Students Act (S. 1122/H.R. 1109), introduced in the Senate earlier this week and in the House earlier this year, would increase access to evidence-based comprehensive mental health programs for the nation’s youth in local schools and communities. The bill would build on youth-focused programs that incorporate promising practices in education, social services, local primary health care, and trauma-informed behavioral health care to help communities take action to help youth and adolescents in need. The National Council applauds Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY) for their leadership on this important issue.
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Advocacy Coalition Promotes Therapeutic Family Care on Capitol Hill
Last week, a coalition of family and foster care organizations hosted a congressional staff briefing advocating for the inclusion of Therapeutic Family Care (TFC) as a reimbursable service through Medicaid nationwide. TFC provides standardized care in a community-based setting for children who would instead be treated in group homes or institutionalized care settings. TFC is currently only reimbursable as a distinct Medicaid service via a demonstration program in Utah, though many states offer access to TFC via the rehabilitation option in Medicaid.
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Family First Act Passed in Short-Term Spending Bill
Last week, Congress passed the Family First Prevention Services Act, a sweeping reform of the child welfare system as part of a larger spending package. The measure allows states to use federal foster care matching funds for prevention services addressing mental health, substance use and parenting skills to keep at-risk children from entering the foster care system. The Act also limits federal reimbursements for foster youth who are placed in congregate care settings. After coming close to passage in 2016, the Family First Act was tucked into last week’s massive budget deal, fast-tracking its enactment.
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Congress Approves Six Year CHIP Authorization, Re-opens Government for Three Weeks
After a three-day government shutdown, the House and Senate passed a stopgap spending bill Monday to keep the government running through Feb. 8. The deal also provided a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and delayed certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes. With a new Feb. 8 funding deadline, lawmakers will once again start negotiating on a long-term FY 2018 budget deal and a potential immigration package, among some remaining health care measures that have been logjammed in the government funding process.
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Congress Set to Pass Another Funding Extension To Avoid Shutdown
For the fourth time in as many months, Congress is faced with another government funding deadline. With a potential shutdown looming, Congress is expected to pass another short-term spending bill today that would keep the government open until mid-February. On the health care front, the spending deal would renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and delay some Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes. The stopgap spending bill has passed the House, but faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
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CHIP Families Still at Risk Despite Temporary Funding Extension
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which currently provides comprehensive health coverage to roughly 9 million children and pregnant women across the United States, is still in danger following Congress’ inability to pass a long-term funding solution. On Dec. 22nd, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) that extended funding for the program through the end of March 2018. The National Council is deeply concerned for the future of this critical program, and urges Congress to act swiftly to extend CHIP for the millions of children and families who rely on it.
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Opioid Use among Teens at Historic Low with Vaping and Marijuana on the Rise
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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CHIP Reauthorization Deadline Passes, Congress Still Yet to Vote
Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which currently provides comprehensive health coverage to roughly 9 million children and pregnant women, expired on September 30. While reauthorization bills have been discussed in both the House and the Senate, none have yet been passed. States are now working to cover the program’s entire cost without federal support until Congress approves reauthorization and President Trump signs it into law.
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Senate Finance Committee Leaders Agree to Five-Year CHIP Extension
With funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) nearing its expiration at the end of September, Senate Finance Committee leaders have announced a bipartisan proposal to reauthorize funding for the program for five years. Formal legislation has not yet been released, but Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) have committed to help move the proposal through Congress this month. An identical proposal must also pass the House and be signed by President Trump.
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House Resolution Recognizes Importance of Trauma-Informed Care
A bipartisan House Resolution would promote the national recognition of trauma-informed care and its use within the federal government’s programs and agencies. The Resolution outlines outstanding programs and initiatives across the country, recommends the designation of a national trauma-focused awareness month, and establishes language for Representatives to refer to when discussing trauma and its treatment.
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Congressional Briefing Highlights Children’s Mental Health
On Monday, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health partnered to host a Congressional briefing titled, “The Benefits of Collaborative Care for Children’s Mental Health.” Kicking off National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, providers, officials, and family members discussed the prevalence of childhood mental illness, the lack of resources to address these illnesses, the importance of collaborative care, and potential solutions to the problem.
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Bill Encouraging Trauma-Informed Care Introduced
On Thursday, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced the latest version of the Trauma Informed Care for Children and Families Act, a bill designed to help identify and aid children who have experienced violence-induced trauma. The legislation creates funding opportunities to expand trauma-informed care across multiple sectors including health care, education, and law enforcement. The bill is a potential vehicle for incorporating the science of adverse childhood experiences and trauma into federal policymaking.
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Senate Bill Encourages Trauma-Informed Care
Before the close of the 114th Congress, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced a wide-ranging measure aimed at promoting and expanding trauma-informed care across multiple sectors including health care, education, and law enforcement. The Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act of 2016 is a potential vehicle for incorporating the science of adverse childhood experiences and trauma into federal policymaking.
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Every Student Succeeds Act Creates Funding Opportunities for Behavioral Health in Schools
The newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides schools with federal resources that can be used to carry out behavioral awareness trainings for educators, such as Mental Health First Aid, and to implement school-based behavioral health services. The law, enacted in December 2015, replaces the previous version of the U.S. national education law known as No Child Left Behind. Full implementation of ESSA is scheduled for the 2017-2018 school year, but funding is still moving through the Congressional appropriations process.
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BHECON Panelists Call for Expanding Young People’s Access to Behavioral Health Care in Connecticut
Expanding patient access to behavioral health care and increased coordination among clinics, physicians, law enforcement and policymakers could dramatically improve the lives of individuals living with mental illness in Connecticut. That was the key takeaway at the BHECON forum that took place in Bridgeport, Connecticut, last week.
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New House Bill Aims to Curb Youth Opioid Use
Earlier this month, Congresswomen Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced legislation to help youth with opioid use disorders connect to addiction treatment services. The Youth Opioid Use Treatment Help Act (H.R. 5956) or YOUTH Act authorizes $5 million in grants for medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs that serve children, adolescents, and young adults, and includes “young adults” as eligible recipients of youth substance use services under the Public Health Service Act.
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House Committee Approves Federal Juvenile Justice Law
Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce unanimously approved the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963), which would expand behavioral health services to justice-involved youth as a part of a larger plan to prevent juvenile delinquency.
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Congress, SAMHSA Kick Off May is Mental Health Month
Since 1949, May has been observed as National Mental Health Awareness Month on Capitol Hill. This year, members of Congress, federal agencies and advocates across the country are once again teaming up to spread the word – and facts – about mental illness. Join the National Council for a full month of events, social media activities and more as we work to raise awareness of mental health in communities across the country.
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