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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.

SAMHSA Releases First Annual CCBHC Report to Congress

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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New Rule Would Limit Immigrants’ Medicaid Access

October 11, 2018 | Medicaid | Take Action | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the Trump Administration formally published a rule that would allow legal immigrants to be denied lawful permanent residency if they enroll in Medicaid or other public benefits. The proposed rule would expand the definition of “public charge,” a test that determines if immigrants are likely to become dependent on government for subsistence, to include federal health, housing and nutrition programs. The National Council strongly opposes the rule as it would deter immigrant families from seeking health care coverage, harming the health of millions of adults and children. The proposed rule is subject to a 60-day comment period, meaning comments on the rule will be accepted until December 10.

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Suicide Hotline Bill Passes House

July 26, 2018 | Take Action | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The House has passed the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, a bill that could spur the development of a three-digit code (like 411 or 611) to act as a national suicide prevention hotline. The National Council for Behavioral Health and other bill supporters say a new three-digit code, specifically catered toward mental health crises, would help divert individuals from the unnecessary use of 911 emergency services. After passing the House overwhelmingly, the bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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National Council Launches GOTV Campaign, Webinar

July 19, 2018 | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The 2018 Midterm Elections are fast approaching, NOW is the time to get out the vote!

In political advocacy, the first and most important step is deciding who will represent you and your community in Washington, D.C. The National Council for Behavioral Health is committed to helping increase voter engagement among Americans living with mental illness and addiction and their families. To this end, National Council is calling on its members to get out the vote and run Voter Registration drives in their organizations this summer and fall.

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Senate Readies Vote on Tax Reform Bill

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Back from the Thanksgiving recess, the Senate is nearing a vote on its tax reform package – potentially by week’s end. The bill was approved out of committee along a party-line vote earlier this week and on Wednesday night, the Senate voted 52-48 to bring the bill to the floor and begin debate. The National Council has made clear its opposition to this package as it includes provisions that would be detrimental to community behavioral health organizations and Americans’ access to mental health and addiction care.

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Senate Health Care Deliberations Continue, Share Your Concerns Today

June 1, 2017 | ACA | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Republican Senate members worked over the Memorial Day recess this week in the hopes of finding consensus around their version of legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. During this crucial deliberation period, Senate leadership is said to be monitoring public opinion on how it should move forward on health care legislation, making this the perfect time to take action and voice your support of the Medicaid program. This week, the National Council is urging all advocates to capitalize on this opportunity and speak up to protect Medicaid expansion and the Medicaid program from per capita caps or block grants.

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While Health Care Remains Unclear, Advocates Must Remain Vigilant

April 13, 2017 | ACA | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

President Trump this week recommitted himself to finalizing a health care deal before moving on to other legislative items. While Congress remains at home on recess, negotiations continue among both congressional leadership and rank-and-file legislators working to build consensus among the majority members. However, with conflicting reports on the progress being made as well as a crowded legislative calendar upon Congress’ return, it is still difficult to decipher how close Congress is to passing a health care law.

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Mental Health America Releases 2016 Voter Guide

August 25, 2016 | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Election Day 2016 is just over two months away and voters are beginning to weigh their options up and down the ballot. This week, Mental Health America released its 2016 “Vote with Mental Health in Mind” Voter Guide to assist voters as they prepare themselves for these important decisions. This non-partisan, informational voter guide is intended to “help advocates ensure that people with mental health and substance use conditions feel empowered and able to vote and that candidates at the federal, state and local levels are considering the concerns of the mental health community.”

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Take Action: Submit Your Comments on MACRA Regulations

June 23, 2016 | Medicare | Quality | Take Action | Comments

Elizabeth Arend

Quality Improvement Advisor

Thank you to all who provided input on the National Council’s comments on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) Proposed Rule. Considered one of the most significant pieces of Medicare legislation in decades, MACRA eliminates the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, and establishes a new Quality Payment Program that will fundamentally change the way in which Medicare reimburses clinicians. Public comments on the proposed rule are being accepted through Monday June 27, 2016.

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Senators Host a Bipartisan Summit on Mental Health

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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Congress, SAMHSA Kick Off May is Mental Health Month

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Since 1949, May has been observed as National Mental Health Awareness Month on Capitol Hill. This year, members of Congress, federal agencies and advocates across the country are once again teaming up to spread the word – and facts – about mental illness. Join the National Council for a full month of events, social media activities and more as we work to raise awareness of mental health in communities across the country.

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Mental Health America to Host DC-Based Conference June 8-10

May 5, 2016 | Hill Day | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On June 8-10, just days after National Council Hill Day 2016, Mental Health America will be hosting its 2016 Annual Conference: Media, Messaging and Mental Health. This event will take an in-depth look at the impact and influence of media and the entertainment industry on the complex issues of mental health and mental illness.

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The Call to Congress Continues: Expand the Excellence Act

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, 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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Make Your Advocacy Count: Follow-up on Your Hill Visits

October 15, 2015 | Hill Day | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

With over 600 advocates and ten partner organizations, National Council Hill Day was an overwhelming success. But the hard work is not over yet. Now that advocates are back home in their districts, it is important to follow-up on meetings with legislators and make your advocacy count.

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600 Behavioral Health Advocates Storm Capitol Hill

October 8, 2015 | Hill Day | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the National Council partnered with ten national advocacy organizations to host the largest National Council Hill Day yet! Over 600 advocates met with more than 300 Members of Congress, sharing with them the important messages of funding and supporting mental health and substance use treatment services. The National Council thanks our partner organizations and ALL of our advocates for their tremendous work.

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National Council Issues Template Comments on Proposed Overtime Rule

August 27, 2015 | Take Action | Workforce | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

New proposed rules from the Department of Labor would double the current salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay. As a result, employers would be required to pay overtime for employees making up to $50,440 per year. The proposed rule would link this salary to inflation, meaning that the overtime exemption threshold would rise from year to year. Public comments on the proposal are being accepted through September 4, 2015.

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Hundreds March on Washington in First Ever Destination Dignity March

August 27, 2015 | Addictions | Justice | Parity | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Monday, hundreds gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. calling for dignity, rights and support for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness and addictions. The inaugural Destination Dignity March focused on raising public awareness of these illnesses and the systematic discrimination individuals living with these disorders face in the public health and criminal justice systems. The march was organization by a coalition of mental health and addiction advocacy organizations, including the National Council.

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Former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy to Speak at Hill Day 2015

July 23, 2015 | Take Action | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council for Behavioral Health is pleased to announce that former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy will speak to Hill Day 2015 attendees on the power of advocacy and bringing mental health and addiction out of the shadows. Kennedy is a tireless crusader for full parity in addiction and mental health care, ambitious investments in medical research that will revolutionize our understanding of the brain, and raising public awareness of the impact that additions and mental illness have on our families, our communities, and ourselves.

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Ask Your Member of Congress to Recognize May as Mental Health Month

April 30, 2015 | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Members of Congress are circulating a House Resolution recognizing May as Mental Health Month. Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) have released a “Dear Colleague” letter asking for support from Members of Congress to help raise awareness and spark important dialogue about federal activities to address mental illness.

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The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Needs Your Help: National Call-in Day

April 30, 2015 | Addictions | Take Action | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Today, the National Council is uniting with advocates and organizations across the country in support of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). CARA is the most expansive bipartisan legislation to date for addiction treatment and recovery support services, and we need your help urging Congress to pass this important bill!

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