National Council Continues Push for Behavioral Health Telehealth Solutions
The National Council has been a longtime advocate for changing federal regulations that restrict how behavioral health medications that are controlled substances can be prescribed via telemedicine. Recognizing the urgent need to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other behavioral health medications, the National Council worked closely with Members of Congress to secure a provision in the opioid legislative package (SUPPORT Act) that would address this problem. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) now has until October 1, 2019 to clarify when the agency can issue prescribers a special registration that would enable them to treat patients for the first time via telemedicine.
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House Passes Behavioral Health Information Technology Bill
A bipartisan bill that would incentivize behavioral health providers to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) passed the House on Tuesday, following passage of a similar bill by the Senate last month. The Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (H.R. 3331), a long-standing National Council priority, would incentivize behavioral health providers to incorporate electronic health records (EHRs) into their practices. The House and Senate versions of the bill must now be reconciled before moving to the President’s desk for his signature.
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Behavioral Health Information Technology Bill Passes Senate
A bipartisan bill that would incentivize behavioral health providers to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) has passed the Senate, and is onto the House for consideration. The Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (S. 1732), a National Council Hill Day 2018 ask, would incentivize behavioral health providers to incorporate electronic health records (EHRs) into their practices. A companion bill is also moving forward in the House as part of a large package of legislation to address the opioid epidemic.
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October 1 Deadline to Attest for Medicare EHR
Mark your calendars: all eligible professionals (EPs) who are first time participants in the Medicare electronic health records (EHR) incentive program must attest by October 1, 2017 to avoid a negative payment adjustment in 2018. EPs who do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use for the 2017 reporting period will receive reduced Medicare payments for that year.
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House Bill Would Create Behavioral Health EHR Demonstration Program
Bipartisan legislation to encourage behavioral health providers to adopt electronic health records (EHR) was introduced in the House last week. Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced their bill, H.R. 3331, which would task the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) with creating a demonstration project to incentivize the use of these EHR systems in various settings, including mental health and addiction treatment organizations.
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New Bill Expands EHR Incentives to Behavioral Health Providers
On Thursday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced legislation that would expand federal electronic health record incentive payments to include a number of behavioral health providers. The bill – the Integrating Behavioral Health through Technology Act (S. 2691) – would establish a pilot program in five states, providing financial incentives for the adoption and use of interoperable electronic health records. This legislation is based on earlier National Council-supported legislation to expand incentives to include all providers.
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Behavioral Health: It’s Hot on the Hill
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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House Democrats Introduce Mental Health Reform Bill
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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New Telehealth Bill Receives Bipartisan, Bicameral Support in Congress
Legislation that will expand telehealth services in Medicare was introduced in both chambers of Congress this week. The bill – the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technology (CONNECT) for Health Act – aims to improve care outcomes, make it easier for patients to connect with their providers, and help cut costs to patients and providers alike. The wide-reaching legislation would loosen historically restrictive Medicare policies around telehealth that have imposed great barriers to patients’ access to needed treatment.
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House Subcommittee Approves Amended Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act
Lawmakers on a key health subcommittee yesterday approved amendments to Representative Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, sending the bill on to consideration by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.
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Medicaid Managed Care Regulation Authorizes States to Reimburse Behavioral Health IT
Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program managed care. Buried within that rule, was language that would allow states to reimburse behavioral health providers, among others, for the adoption and use of interoperable health information technology through Medicaid. This would be an incredibly important opportunity for provider groups that were left out of the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program back in 2009.
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Congressman Tim Murphy Re-introduces Mental Health Reform Bill
Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) have reintroduced their bipartisan legislation enacting comprehensive reforms to the U.S. mental health delivery system. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) was first introduced in 2013; the legislation is the culmination of an ongoing series of hearings Murphy has held as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Committee in the wake of the tragic 2012 Newtown shooting.
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21st Century Cures Bill Unanimously Passes Committee, Now Heads to House Floor
Today, the 21st Century Cures bill took an important step forward in the House when it was unanimously passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The wide-ranging legislative agenda now heads to the House floor where it will await a vote by the full chamber. Committee Chairman Fred Upton said recently that he hopes to have a bill to the President by the end of the year.
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Latest Draft of 21st Century Cures Draft Bill Released by House Committee
Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to discuss the recently updated discussion draft of the 21st Century Cures legislation. The comprehensive draft aims to spark improvements and innovation throughout the US health system. Of particular importance to behavioral health providers is the inclusion of placeholder language indicating that the final bill will address health information technology and telehealth practices, important initiatives that had been rumored to be on the chopping block earlier this month.
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CMS Proposes Important Updates to EHR Incentive Program
For behavioral health providers participating in Electronic Health Records (EHR) Meaningful Use incentive program, there is a lot to like in the recently-proposed rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Over the last few weeks, CMS has released proposed updates to the incentive program that seek to simplify reporting requirements for providers and align program objectives and measurements throughout all three stages of Meaningful Use.
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Senate, House Lawmakers to Push Mental Health Reform
Last week, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) outlined plans to introduce a pair of mental health reform bills next month. Rep. Murphy plans to reintroduce a version of a House bill he pushed in the last Congress – the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act – while Sen. Murphy said he plans to introduce a slightly different bill in the Senate around the same time.
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CMS Extends Meaningful Use, PQRS Deadline until March 20
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended reporting deadlines for 2014 Meaningful Use and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) until March 20, 2015. The Meaningful Use extension applies only to the Medicare Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program. The extensions do not affect deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.
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HHS Announces Grant Opportunities for Interoperable Health IT
A new funding opportunity from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would offer states a chance to build and advance health IT services in their community-based health organizations. The funding opportunity for states – the Advance Interoperable Health Information Technology Services to Support Health Information Exchanges – specifically targets organizations that did not receive EHR incentive payments through the HITECH Act in 2009 and have so far been kept out of the EHR incentive program, including behavioral health organizations.
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National Council Submits Comments on HHS Health IT Strategic Plan
Late last year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an updated draft of its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Last week, the National Council submitted comments on the plan, urging HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) to work to expand incentive payments to behavioral health providers for the adoption of electronic health records.
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Perspectives on Interoperability and Using Data Segmentation for Information Privacy
Most behavioral health providers don’t need to be schooled in the complexities around sharing “specially protected” patient health information (PHI). Ensuring adherence to the many rules and regulations at both the state and federal levels is a formidable, but familiar, challenge.
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