Distribution of Provider Relief Funds, Crisis Stabilization Passes
QUOTABLE “Today, we move one step closer to improving how justice-involved people receive mental health and substance use disorder treatment… On behalf of the National Council, I thank Sens. Cornyn (R-TX) and Blumenthal (D-CT), as well as Reps. Trone (D-MD), Rutherford (R-FL), Dean (D-PA), Reschenthaler (R-PA), Scanlon (D-PA), and Armstrong (R-ND) for continuing to prioritize […]
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Senate Passes Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act, Funding Deadline Looms
QUOTABLE “I want to thank Senator Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) for their leadership in introducing the bill, as well as Senators from both sides of the aisle for prioritizing increased access to mental health treatment for incarcerated individuals. This is especially important during a time when our nation’s most vulnerable people are at […]
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2,000 Advocates Join National Council’s First Ever Virtual Hill Day at Home
This week, the National Council partnered with 29 national advocacy organizations to host our first ever Hill Day at Home. Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hill Day 2020 was hosted virtually, making advocating for individuals living with mental illness and addiction more accessible than ever. A record-breaking 2,000 advocates from across the nation joined Hill Day at Home, reaching 511 Members of Congress with our policy asks. If you weren’t able to join live, you can access presentations and exhibitors’ information until July 23, and there is still time to reach out to your legislators – encouraging their support for a number of legislative priorities that are important to the behavioral health community.
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Bipartisan Criminal Justice, Mental Health Bill Introduce in House and Senate
New bipartisan legislation would provide aid and resources to the intersection of our nation’s mental health providers and criminal justice system. The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act would authorize $10 million in grants to communities to create collaborative programs involving justice agencies and community-based behavioral health providers, including Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). It would also create a national technical assistance center to serve communities around the country.
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Consensus Workgroup Publishes Recommendations to Improve Care in the Justice System
Last week, the Consensus Workgroup on Behavioral Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System, a coalition of twelve national advocacy organizations including the National Council, released federal policy recommendations to the 116th Congress and the Trump Administration. Some recommendations include addressing diversion tactics, effective practices during incarceration, workforce development, federal research and coordination, juvenile justice reform, and more.
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Sen. Cornyn Introduces Bill to Expand Resources for Mental Health Treatment
This week, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) joined a group of his colleagues in the Senate to introduce the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts (RESPONSE) Act (S. 2690). Within this wide-ranging bill, there are provisions the National Council supports including increasing access to mental health treatment, such as promoting collaboration between the mental health and criminal justice systems and supporting school-based behavioral intervention teams. The National Council shares the Senators desire to increase access to mental health treatment and recovery.
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New Legislation Introduced to Increase MAT Access in Correctional Facilities
More than 50 percent of incarcerated individuals in the U.S. meet criteria for substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD). Last month, Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bill to increase treatment for OUD among incarcerated individuals and address the issue that inmates are 40 times more likely to die from a fatal opioid overdose in the first two weeks following release. The Community Re-Entry through Addiction Treatment to Enhance (CREATE) Opportunities Act (S. 1983) would establish a grant program to provide more medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options while incarcerated and continued access to care upon release.
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Tonko, Turner Reintroduce Bipartisan Addiction Treatment Bill
A bipartisan bill that would allow states to restart Medicaid coverage for eligible incarcerated individuals up to 30 days before their release from jail or prison was introduced this week by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Michael Turner (R-OH). The Medicaid Reentry Act (H.R. 1329) is an important step toward improving access to much-needed mental health and substance use services for one of the most vulnerable populations in the country.
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Congress Passes Criminal Justice Reform
Earlier this week, the Senate and House both voted to pass the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation to reform the nation’s criminal justice system. Notably, the First Step Act includes a reauthorization of the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism and provides people leaving prison with post-release supportive services, including mental health and addiction treatment. President Trump is expected to sign the measure into law on Friday (12/21).
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Law Enforcement & CCBHCs: Increasing Access to Treatment, Decreasing Recidivism
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing, 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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BHECON’s 2018 Themes Show Key Issues Faced by State Behavioral Health Associations
The Behavioral Health + Economics Network (BHECON), an initiative led by the National Council, is winding down on its second year of activities. BHECON partners with National Council state provider associations to transform the behavioral health delivery system by increasing their advocacy capacity and breaking down silos that create barriers to services for individuals with serious mental illness and co-occurring conditions. In its second year, BHECON translated the key state issues identified by stakeholders in year one, including mental health parity, workforce and increasing access to behavioral health services, into specific policy solutions in each of the nine states currently participating in the program.
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Trump Announces More Action on Opioids at Summit
Last Thursday, the White House held an Opioid Summit to discuss the Administration’s strategy for tackling the ongoing opioid crisis, which claimed more than 42,000 American lives and accounted for roughly two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2016. During his remarks, President Trump said, “The Administration is going to be rolling out policy over the next three weeks, and it will be very, very strong.” There was limited discussion of specific proposals, but it is expected the White House may bolster law enforcement agencies to carry out opioid-related activities.
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Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee Releases Report to Congress
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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Diverse Stakeholders Gather to Discuss Mental Health and Criminal Justice Reform
On November 9, 2017, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare and Massachusetts Association for Mental Health in partnership with the Behavioral Health + Economics Network (BHECON), hosted a forum to address the overwhelming number of individuals with mental health needs that encounter the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. The forum, entitled “The Intersection of Reform: Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System,” highlighted both national and local programs that are decreasing recidivism, or rearrests, and arrests for individuals with behavioral health disorders, increasing successful treatment outcomes, and saving money for counties and states.
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Senate Bill to Support Reentry Programs Reintroduced
Last week, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce relapse and provides people leaving prison with post-release supportive services, including mental health and addiction treatment.
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Mental Health First Aid Heads to Capitol Hill
On Friday, March 24, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing hosted briefings on Capitol Hill to address the importance of Mental Health First Aid trainings for law enforcement officers who regularly respond to calls involving persons in mental health or addiction crises. The panel included three law enforcement officers from across the U.S. who discussed the impact that Mental Health First Aid has had on their communities and departments.
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Congress Sends 21st Century Cures to White House
On Wednesday, the Senate passed 21st Century Cures (H.R. 34), a bill designed to spur medical innovation and research. The bill also establishes $1 billion in grants to states to help combat the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic. Cures now heads to White House, where it is expected to be signed by President Obama early next week.
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New Mexico Behavioral Health Providers Cleared of Fraud Allegations
Last week in New Mexico, the state Attorney General, Hector Balderas, cleared the last two of 15 behavioral health providers of allegations of Medicaid fraud. The 13 other providers were cleared earlier this year. The move came after several years of investigation, in which Medicaid payments to the affected agencies were halted and many were forced to close their doors.
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Senate Committee Holds Mental Health, Criminal Justice Hearing
Last Wednesday, mental health advocates and state and local criminal justice officials testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for improvements in the way the justice system addresses those living with mental illness. The hearing focused largely on Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) criminal justice and mental health reform bill – the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act (S. 2002) which aims to ensure that individuals with mental illness are receiving proper treatment as opposed to cycling through the criminal justice system. Although no vote has been scheduled, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made clear the Committee’s intentions to take up this bill in the future.
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What’s Coming Down the Hill? An Update on Congress in 2016
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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