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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.

House Unveils COVID-19 Response Proposal

May 15, 2020 | COVID-19 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Shelley Starkey

The House of Representatives this week proposed a $3 trillion COVID-19 response package, called the Health Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The bill includes a number of provisions that would support behavioral health providers, including $3 billion for various programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, $100 billion for the Health Care Provider Relief Fund, as well as a codified application process and formula for providers to access the funds, eligibility expansions for nonprofits in the Paycheck Protection Program, and more. Although these provisions are steps forward for the nation’s coronavirus response, the National Council continues to push for more direct supports for behavioral health providers, including our main ask of $38.5 billion in emergency funds.

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Congress Passes “Phase 3.5” COVID-19 Response Package

April 23, 2020 | COVID-19 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Shelley Starkey

Congress has reached a $475 billion deal on a “Phase 3.5” legislative package to provide funding for pressing needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deal provides an additional $310 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which recently ran out of funds, as well as another $10 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. It also provides $75 billion for health care providers via the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, supplementing the $100 billion provided in the CARES Act.  The bill now moves to President Trump’s desk for his signature, which is expected as early as today.

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White House Releases FY 2021 Budget Request

February 13, 2020 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Natalie Weiner

Manager, Policy & Advocacy

On Monday the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request which totals $4.8 trillion. The proposal includes significant nondefense discretionary cuts including a nine percent cut to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its agencies. The proposed budget does, however, include $906 million to extend the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program as well as $225 million in CCBHC expansion grants. These funds would enable CCBHCs to continue offering the full range of required mental health and addiction treatment services. Despite the positive signal of support for CCBHCs, the budget also includes major cuts to Medicaid and other critical behavioral health programs that would significantly harm Americans living with mental illness and addiction.

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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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Congress Passes FY 2020 Funding

December 20, 2019 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

This week, Congress passed a set of bills that appropriate federal funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. These bills are now with President Trump, and he is expected to sign them into law before the deadline at midnight, Friday, December 20. FY 2020 behavioral health funding prioritizes efforts to address the opioid crisis and increases funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) and behavioral health research.

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CCBHC Demonstration Extended Through May

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Shelley Starkey

As part of the Fiscal Year 2020 funding package, the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program currently operating in 8 states has been extended through May 22, 2020. The bill also provides a $50 million increase to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s CCBHC expansion grants, thanks in large part to Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) efforts. The National Council thanks Congress for its passage of the longest CCBHC funding extension to date and will continue our work advocating for further funding for this critical program.

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Continuing Resolution Passes Out of Senate, Onto President for Signature

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Shelley Starkey

Both chambers of Congress have agreed to a stopgap funding bill that will keep the federal government open through November 21, giving appropriators more time to finalize Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) funding levels. The continuing resolution (CR) includes a short-term extension for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Medicaid demonstration and level funding for the majority of ongoing federal programs. The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

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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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Deal Reached on Budget Caps and Debt Ceiling, On to Senate for Approval

July 26, 2019 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Shelley Starkey

Congressional leaders and White House officials reached a sweeping deal on Monday that would address pressing deadlines for the federal debt ceiling and budgetary spending caps. The Bipartisan Budget Act (H.R. 3877) represents the largest-ever increase in base funding above sequestration levels for both defense and nondefense spending. The deal also effectively ends the threat of sequestration – a mandatory automatic spending cuts put in place in 2011.   The House passed the bill on Thursday, and the Senate is expected to hold its vote next week.

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FY 2020 Health Spending Package Passes House

June 27, 2019 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Shelley Starkey

Policy & Advocacy Coordinator

Last week, the House passed its fiscal year 2020, Defense-Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-HHS) appropriations bills, which include funding for federal mental health and addiction programs. The $1 trillion package would prioritize funding to address the opioid crisis and increase medical research. The minibus passed largely along party lines and is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate as currently written. Importantly, Congressional leaders from both parties and President Trump will need to work out a larger deal to lift impending budget caps before September 30th, 2019 for any spending bill to become law.

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House Appropriators Pass FY 20 Health Spending

May 9, 2019 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

The House Appropriations Committee approved its Labor-HHS budget for Fiscal Year 2020 on Wednesday, funding key federal health, education and labor programs for the year ahead. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) saw increases of $115 million to its programming which includes level funding for several key programs as well as new funding for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and substance use disorder workforce initiatives. The appropriations bill now heads to the House floor for consideration and a vote.

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House Panel Approves FY 20 Health Funding Levels

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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Tuesday, the appropriations subcommittee that covers health care programs approved funding levels for federal health spending for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. As expected, the bill largely ignores proposed cuts from President Trump’s budget and assumes that Congress will reach a deal to avoid upcoming budget caps. As currently written, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill would prioritize efforts to address the opioid crisis and increase medical research.

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President Trump Releases FY 2020 Budget Proposal

March 15, 2019 | Federal Budget | Medicaid | Comments
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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Monday, President Trump unveiled his Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request — calling for $4.7 trillion decrease in federal spending and detailing his Administration’s priorities for next year. The document revives efforts to block grant Medicaid and restrict eligibility, maintains spending to combat opioid addiction, and outlines other major health care priorities. As with most presidential budgets, this proposal stands little chance of being enacted into law as written. Instead, the President’s budget proposal will act more as a messaging tool to Congress, which is currently working to develop and pass a budget for FY 2020 over the next few months

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What to Watch in Health Care in 2019

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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

The 116th Congress began on Thursday amid a government funding lapse that has shut down roughly 25 percent of the federal government. Democrats are set to lead the House chamber for the first time since 2010, while Republicans remain in control in the Senate. While legislation may be move less quickly in the new divided Congress, lawmakers will still face a number of “must-pass” bills that include health care priorities. Additionally, the Trump Administration will continue to shape the health care landscape with Medicaid waivers and potential payment reforms. Here is a preview of what’s ahead in health policy in 2019.

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House Passes Huge Health Spending Bill

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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, the House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan “minibus” package for fiscal year 2019 Defense-Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-HHS) appropriations bills, which include funding for federal mental health and addiction programs. Notably, the bill (H.R. 6157) would increase funding for some mental health and addiction programs as well as provide around $3.8 billion to specifically to address the opioid addiction crisis. The “minibus” also included a stopgap spending measure to fund the rest of the government into early December. With the Senate having passed the bill last week, the bill now heads to President Trump, who has said that he will sign the measure by September 30th to avert a government shutdown.

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Senate Passes Massive Health and Defense Spending Bill

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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan “minibus” package for fiscal year 2019 Defense-Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-HHS) appropriations bills, which include funding for federal mental health and addiction programs. Notably, the bill (H.R. 6157) would increase funding for some mental health and addiction programs as well as provide around $3.8 billion to specifically to address the opioid addiction crisis. With the House expected to vote on the package next week, Congress hopes to finalize the federal health care budget and avoid a government shutdown before the September 30th spending deadline.

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Senate Passes FY 19 Health Appropriations

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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a joint Defense and Labor-HHS appropriations bill that would increase federal health spending in the upcoming fiscal year. Notably, the bill would increase funding for some mental health and addiction programs as well as provide around $3.7 billion to specifically to address the opioid addiction crisis. House and Senate members now face a time crunch to reconcile their appropriations bills before a September 30th funding deadline and potential government shutdown.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 19 Health Spending Bill

July 12, 2018 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Shelley Starkey

Just before the July 4th recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced 12 bills as a first step to setting funding levels across the federal government for Fiscal Year 2019, including a package for key health, education, and labor programs. A key focus in the proposal is combating opioid addiction, which marks a 1,275% increase in funding over the past 4 years for prevention, treatment, recovery, and research programs. As currently written, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would see significant increases in their topline budgets.

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House Appropriators Approve Health Spending Plan for FY 19

July 12, 2018 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

The House Appropriations Committee approved its Labor-HHS budget for fiscal year 2019, funding key federal health, education and labor programs for the year ahead. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) saw increases of more than $400 million to its programming, though several key programs maintained level funding to prior years, and a fund to support the expansion of Certified Behavioral Community Health Clinics (CCBHCs) faces elimination.

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House Panel Approves FY 19 Health Funding Levels

June 20, 2018 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last Friday, the appropriations subcommittee that covers health care programs approved funding levels for federal health spending for FY 2019. Earlier this year, Congress set federal spending levels for FY 2019, boosting both defense and non-defense spending by a combined $300 billion. As currently written, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill would prioritize efforts to address the opioid crisis and increase medical research.

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