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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.

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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Congress Reaches Deal on Opioid Funding, Mental Health

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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

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Michael Petruzzelli

, 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

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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

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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

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Michael Petruzzelli

, 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

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Michael Petruzzelli

, 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

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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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Senate Committee Holds Mental Health Hearing, Linda Rosenberg Testifies

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee convened a hearing to discuss the status of mental health in America. Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, testified before the Committee, highlighting the challenges facing the behavioral health system and how the Excellence in Mental Health Act and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) can and should be the answer.

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Behavioral Health: It’s Hot on the Hill

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Linda Rosenberg

President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health

In Washington, we are in the midst of the most proactive and important public policy shift in over a generation. From the implementation of the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration, to continued funding for Mental Health First Aid, to the Senate’s recent approval of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act – longstanding National Council priorities are beginning to see the attention they so rightfully deserve.

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Senate Committee Explores Solutions to U.S. Opioid Epidemic

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Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

On Tuesday, the influential Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to examine addiction to opioids, continuing a string of notable legislative action aimed at finding solutions to the opioid epidemic in America. The hearing was convened to connect opioid abuse to mental health reform and explore changes that could be made to federal policies regarding opioid abuse.

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House Kicks Off Budget Season, HHS Defends FY2017 Budget Request

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Appropriations season is officially underway on Capitol Hill, with Obama Administration officials defending their FY2017 budget requests before Congress this week. On Wednesday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell participated in her third hearing this month, highlighting key health components of the President’s budget request before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Secretary’s comments focused on many important topics, including: expansion of the Excellence in Mental Health Act, evidence-based solutions to the nation’s opioid epidemic, and state Medicaid expansion and reform to ensure needed coverage of millions of Americans.

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Companion Excellence Act Expansion Bill Introduced in the House

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Friday, Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced a companion bill to Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) Expand Excellence in Mental Health Act (S.2525/H.R.4567). The bill would expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration program to include all 24 planning grant states. The National Council applauds the leadership and continued dedication of Representatives Lance and Matsui, as well as Senators Blunt and Stabenow, for their commitment to bettering the lives of those living with mental illness and addictions.

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Excellence in Mental Health Act Expansion Legislation Introduced

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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced the Expand Excellence in Mental Health Act (S. 2525) – legislation that would expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics demonstration program to all 24 planning grant states. The National Council for Behavioral Health applauds the introduction of this critical bill and thanks Senators Blunt and Stabenow for their unwavering commitment to expanding Americans’ access to high-quality mental health and addiction treatment services.

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House Democrats Introduce Mental Health Reform Bill

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced their own version of mental health reform legislation this week. The bill, which spans nearly 300 pages, touches on many parts of the US mental health system. The bill’s authors said in a statement that their legislation is not meant to compete with Rep. Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646); instead they said it is intended to push the conversation forward toward compromise and passage.

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What’s Coming Down the Hill? An Update on Congress in 2016

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Over the last several months, Capitol Connector has written over 50 stories about mental health and substance use legislation in the 114th Congress. From bill introductions to committee hearings to votes, every major development has been shared with our readers. And in two weeks, when President Obama submits to Congress the final budget recommendations of his administration, mental health and addictions will again take center stage. So where do all of these bills stand? What should be expected from Congress in the run up to Election Day 2016?

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COCHS, National Council Host Excellence Act, Criminal Justice Summit

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Community Oriented Correctional Health Services (COCHS) and the National Council for Behavioral Health hosted a summit this week examining the potential of the Excellence in Mental Health Act to fundamentally transform mass incarceration in the US criminal justice system. The summit focused on the potential of the Excellence Act and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) to reduce health care silos, ensure continuity of care and avoid unnecessary incarcerations for the behavioral health needs of justice involved individuals.

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CCBHC’s Are Coming to NatCon16

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Excellence in Mental Health Act and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC’s) are hot topics heading into 2016 and National Council Conference has all you need to know and more. Join us for NatCon16 in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 7-9 for hours of expert training and intensive workshops, helping to prepare you for success as a CCBHC. Register for NatCon16 today!

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The Call to Congress Continues: Expand the Excellence Act

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

In the weeks following a national op-ed calling for an expansion of the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration, two more statewide op-eds have been published asking Congress to #Fundthe24. The two states – New Jersey and Oklahoma – are among the 24 states across the country currently engaged in the one-year demonstration planning process.

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