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Archive: Excellence in Mental Health Act

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.

SAMHSA Releases First Annual CCBHC Report to Congress

Shelley Starkey

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), a new comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment model that is currently active in eight states, have been transforming care across the country since they launched in mid-2017. As required by the legislation that gave rise to CCBHCs, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued its first annual report to Congress on the status of the program late last week. The report outlines the genesis of the CCBHC program, the process that clinics have undergone to become CCBHCs, the current status of the program’s implementation, and long-term sustainability efforts.

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Opioid Legislation Nearing Finish Line Following Passage of Senate Bill

Shelley Starkey

The Senate passed its version of a sweeping legislative package to address the opioid crisis on Monday in a 99 to 1 vote. The bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act (S. 2680) supports many National Council priorities, including expanding access to treatment, strengthening the behavioral health workforce and supporting behavioral health information technology. The House and Senate will now need to reconcile the differences between the two different versions of legislation to finalize a bill for the President’s signature.

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House Sends More Opioid Bills to the Senate

Shelley Starkey

The House of Representatives this week picked up where it left off in its efforts to advance legislation to address the opioid crisis. The latest House-passed bills will be combined with those that were passed last week to create a comprehensive package for the Senate to consider. Bills that advanced this week include some controversial measures to loosen the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) rule and 42 CFR Part 2, which governs the privacy of substance use treatment records. Other measures that passed related to the expansion of parity protection, and prevention, treatment, and recovery for opioid use disorders.

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Senate Judiciary & Finance Advance Opioid Bills

Shelley Starkey

As a part of the Senate’s larger efforts to address the ongoing opioid epidemic, two committees discussed their own legislative solutions this week. The Senate Finance Committee considered and approved the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 on Tuesday, and the Senate Judiciary advanced the Preventing Drug Diversion Act. These bills will join a host of others that are making their way to the Senate floor, although a timeline on their further consideration is currently unclear.

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CCBHCs Are Transforming Opioid Addiction Treatment Access

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

Despite the surging opioid crisis, only one in ten Americans with an addiction disorder receives treatment in any given year. Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) were enacted in 2014 to fill the gaps in unmet need for addiction and mental health care and expand access to comprehensive, community-based treatment. Early results from the two-year program demonstrate how CCBHCs are dramatically improving access to opioid and other addiction care.

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Behavioral Health Organizations Host First National Rally to Prevent Suicide

Samantha Sears

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Last Saturday, thousands assembled on the steps of Capitol Hill to support Congressional bills related to suicide prevention and quality mental health care. Hosted by the National Council for Suicide Prevention (NCSP), the Rally to Prevent Suicide featured speakers from suicide prevention organizations, families from those lost to suicide, and individuals with previous suicide attempts.

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National Council Hosts Integration Briefing on Capitol Hill

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council for Behavioral Health hosted a congressional staff briefing on Wednesday highlighting government programs and initiatives that promote the integration of primary and behavioral health care. The panel featured four grantees from the Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care grant program, two of whom are also participants in the Medicaid Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration program.

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Capitol Hill Hearings Examine Patient Brokering, Addiction in Appalachia, and Cures Act

Shelley Starkey

Congress hosted an assortment of hearings this week related to mental health and addiction. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee heard from SAMHSA Assistant Secretary Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz on the ongoing implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act as it pertains to mental health programs, and two separate House subcommittees examined aspects of the opioid epidemic, specifically the rise of patient brokering and opioid addiction in Appalachia.

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Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee Releases Report to Congress

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Thursday, the federal Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) released its first report to Congress detailing major barriers to treatment for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). The ISMICC, created by the 21st Century Cures Act, recommended ways to improve government-wide coordination to address unmet needs of people with serious mental illness. Their recommendations highlighted expanding the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program, improved payment rates for psychiatry, and more criminal justice system diversion and early identification and intervention services for children and young adults.

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Senate Subcommittee Convenes Hearing on Opioid Epidemic

Shelley Starkey

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing to discuss the opioid epidemic and how Congress should address prevention, treatment, and recovery for opioid use disorders. The hearing convened national leaders on the issue, including the representatives of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Discussion highlighted the expansion of the Certified Community Health Center (CCBHC) demonstration as a way to dramatically expand opioid addiction treatment capacity in more states.

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Excellence Act Expansion Bill Introduced in the Senate

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Earlier this week, Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act, H.R. 3931/S. 1905 – legislation to expand and extend the Excellence Act demonstration program in Medicaid.

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National Council, The Hill, Janssen Host Event on State of Mental Health Care

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Tuesday, the DC-based newspaper The Hill hosted an event with the National Council and Janssen to explore current innovations and challenges in the delivery of mental health care around the U.S. Panelists at the event, titled “The State of Mental Health Care: Challenges and Solutions,” highlighted the important role of Medicaid in ensuring access to care and shared information about how states are working with consumers, family members, hospitals and jails to help connect people to treatment.

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SAMHSA Announces States Selected for CCBHC Demonstration

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration this week announced the selection of eight states to participate in the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration under the Excellence in Mental Health Act. Beginning in 2017, certified clinics in the eight states will receive an enhanced Medicaid payment rate based on their anticipated costs of providing an expanded array of addiction and mental health services, along with basic primary care screening and coordination with primary care.

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Congress Reaches Deal on Opioid Funding, Mental Health

Stephanie Pellitt

Associate, Policy and Advocacy

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act – a medical research and innovation bill that includes important funding for addictions. The bill authorizes $1 billion over the next two years to address the opioid crisis, and would create and reauthorize a number of federal mental health grant programs. The Senate is set to consider the bill early next week.

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Fate of Mental Health Bills Unknown in Lame Duck Session

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congress is on recess until after the November election. When they return to Washington, legislators will be faced with a number of high priority decisions that must be made in short order. From funding the federal government beyond December 9 to determining which legislative initiatives to vote on and pass before the year is out, advocates hope that Congress will take up a number of mental health bills before legislators close the books on the 114th Congress.

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BHECON Panelists Call for Expanding Young People’s Access to Behavioral Health Care in Connecticut

Jacquelyn Sommer

, National Council for Behavioral Health

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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BHECON Hosts First Statewide Forum in Missouri

Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

States and the federal government need to take action to address the behavioral health workforce shortage in America. That was the key take away attendees heard at the first Behavioral Health + Economics (BHECON) forum, held in St. Louis, Missouri August 4. The Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare, BHECON’s partner in Missouri, led a dynamic discussion about recruitment and retention problems for clinics and possible solutions such as the Excellence in Mental Health Act.

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Mental Health Bill Approved by Committee, Now Heads to House Floor

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a revised version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646). Introduced and championed by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), the bill now heads to the House floor where it awaits consideration from the full chamber. According to reports, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) aims to bring the bill up for a vote by the full House this summer. There is currently no companion mental health bill in the Senate, though similar measures have been introduced.

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House Committee to Consider, Vote on Mental Health Reform Bill

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, June 15, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will convene a hearing to consider and vote on a revised version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), originally introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). The draft bill reflects a few changes pushed by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), including codifying a limit on Medicaid coverage for inpatient mental health care at institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) – Per the final Medicaid managed care rule – and dropping language that would loosen Health Information Portability Accountability Act (HIPPA) restrictions.

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Senators Host a Bipartisan Summit on Mental Health

Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

Last week, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) hosted a summit on mental health, aimed at drawing national attention and support for their bipartisan bill, the Mental Health Reform Act (S. 2680). The event brought together mental health advocates and field experts to discuss challenges and opportunities in the behavioral health care delivery system. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) were also in attendance and both voiced support for the legislation. Senator Alexander noted, “out of all the major pieces of legislation that remain to be worked on, this has as good as a chance as any” for passage.

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