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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.

House Passes Short-Term CCBHC Extension, Bill Now Heads to White House

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Michael Petruzzelli

Director, Federal Policy and Advocacy

On Tuesday, the House approved a short-term extension of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration in Medicaid. The legislation now heads to the White House for President Trump’s review and signature. The bill would extend the program until Friday, September 13, 2019. This extension is yet another legislative victory for the CCBHC program and one on which we will look to build momentum for a long-term extension and expansion in the fall. The National Council thanks Congress and the countless advocates whose work has expanded access to high-quality, community-based treatment through the CCBHC program.

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Advocates Storm Capitol Hill to Preserve CCBHCs

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Thursday, the National Council hosted nearly 100 advocates from 16 states to build support for legislation to extend and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program in Medicaid. The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767) would extend the demo in the original eight states for two years, while expanding the program to the other 11 that applied but were not originally selected. The CCBHC program will expire on June 30, 2019 without Congressional action.

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Congress Extends CCBHC Demonstration in Oregon, Oklahoma

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Senate approved a bill by voice vote on Tuesday that extends the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program in Oregon and Oklahoma, among other Medicaid programs. H.R. 1839, which passed the House last week, provides both states with an additional three months of participation in the CCBHC initiative, funding them both through June 30, 2019. Oregon and Oklahoma were set to conclude their two-year demonstration and lose their funding on March 31, but this extension will align them with the other six CCBHC demonstration states that began the program three months after OR and OK in 2017.

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Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act Reintroduced

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Shelley Starkey

A bipartisan bill that would extend and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model was introduced Thursday (3/14) in both chambers of Congress by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ […]

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Push to Expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Continues

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Shelley Starkey

The National Council for Behavioral Health has been at the forefront of developing a national model for mental health and addiction treatment called Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), created under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. CCBHCs have been filling the gap in the unmet need for addiction care, supporting local criminal justice systems by providing effective diversion and reentry solutions, and increasing access to evidence-based behavioral health treatment across the country. As the end of the CCBHC demonstration looms, the National Council remains committed to expanding this critical and effective model.

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CCBHC Expiration Presents “A Looming Crisis” for Addiction Care

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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Since launching in mid-2017, Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) have dramatically improved access to community-based addiction care in the eight states where they operate, particularly opioid addiction services. CCBHCs have hired hundreds of new addiction-focused clinicians, expanded medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other addiction services, and reduced patient wait times. However, with the CCBHC program set to end in mid-2019, access to lifesaving treatment could be lost. A new National Council report shows that the end of the CCBHC demonstration would result in massive program closures, staff layoffs and reduced addiction treatment access for patients. The National Council is calling on Congress to act quickly to extend the life of this critical program.

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Law Enforcement & CCBHCs: Increasing Access to Treatment, Decreasing Recidivism

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Shelley Starkey

The National Council for Behavioral Health, in partnership with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), hosted a Congressional staff briefing on Tuesday to highlight how Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) are partnering with their local law enforcement to connect community members to timely addiction and mental health treatment and help officers to focus more of their time on their main duty: keeping their communities safe. The briefing brought together law enforcement officers and clinic leaders who urged Congress to act quickly to pass the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 1905/H.R. 3931) to extend the CCBHC demonstration.

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SAMHSA Releases First Annual CCBHC Report to Congress

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Michael Petruzzelli

, 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

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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

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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

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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

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Michael Petruzzelli

, 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

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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

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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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