Trump Taps Nominee for Asst. Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Use
President Trump announced this week his pick for the first-ever Assistant Secretary of the Mental Health and Substance Use. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, currently serving as the Chief Medical Officer for Rhode Island’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, served two years under President Obama as the Chief Medical Officer at SAMHSA. Created as a part of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, this position must be confirmed by the Senate.
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Surgeon General Vivek Murthy Dismissed, Replaced by Deputy
Last Friday, Vivek Murthy was asked by the Trump Administration to resign as U.S. Surgeon General. His deputy, Sylvia Trent-Adams, will act as a temporary replacement. Serving as Surgeon General since 2014, Dr. Murthy made great advancements in promoting addiction as a public health issue, and produced the office’s first comprehensive report on addiction in America.
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Congressional Briefing Highlights Value of Recovery Housing
On Thursday, the National Council partnered with Facing Addiction to host a Capitol Hill briefing on the effectiveness, challenges, and opportunities of recovery housing. The hearing featured testimony from Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act sponsors Sens. Portman (R-OH) and Whitehouse (D-RI), recovery housing operators, policy and legal experts, as well as personal stories from former recovery housing residents. The hearing focused on the integral role recovery housing plays in helping individuals achieve long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and demonstrated the need for Congress to provide greater support for recovery housing.
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Medicaid is a Human Issue
You have seen a lot of numbers detailing the impacts of the health care repeal bill, known as the American Health Care Act. It is easy to get caught up in the numbers, but it is important to remember those numbers represent people. People like Katie. Katie started taking pain pills in high school and soon found herself taking up to eight a day. Thanks to Medicaid she is getting treatment and working on her college degree in biology.
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Congressional Briefing Addresses Mental Health Disparities for Black Women
The Congressional Caucus for Black Women and Girls hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill last Thursday, highlighting mental health issues affecting women of color. The briefing, titled “What Makes Black Girls Blue?” addressed the complex intersections of mental health, race, and gender and featured the perspectives of community treatment providers, public officials, and researchers. The panelists offered potential solutions for overcoming barriers to mental health care, including greater mental health awareness and more culturally competent care.
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Greg Walden to Lead Key Health Committee
Last week, House Republican leaders elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) of Oregon’s 2nd District to run the influential House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) will continue to serve as Ranking Member. The House E&C Committee is the key health committee in the House of Representatives and should take center stage in efforts to repeal and replace tenets of the Affordable Care Act.
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Congress Considers Lame Duck Action on Mental Health
Rumors inside the Beltway suggest that Congress could vote on a mental health and health research and innovation package after Thanksgiving. While details have yet to emerge, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) – Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and author of the 21st Century Cures Act – told House Republicans at a meeting last week that negotiations on the legislative package are nearing completion.
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Advocacy in 2017: Bring a Friend and Let’s Go to Work
In any post-election autopsy or forecast for the future, there is inevitably a ranking of the most powerful people in the room. As the political world prepares itself for a new presidential administration and Congress, the National Council wanted to share its list of the most powerful person in politics in 2017: YOU!
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Resources on New Emergency Preparedness Rule Now Available
Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a set of requirements to prevent breakdowns in patient care following natural disasters and other emergencies. These new requirements will directly impact a limited number of mental health providers, including those registered with Medicare as Community Mental Health Centers. This week, CMS released a number of resources for providers to review and utilize as they strive to meet compliance by the November, 2017 deadline.
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SAMHSA Hires Chief Medical Officer, Anita Everett, M.D.
Last week SAMHSA announced the hiring of its new Chief Medical Officer, Anita Everett, M.D. Dr. Everett brings a wealth of behavioral health expertise and experience from the psychiatric field to this new role within SAMHSA. Currently, she works for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as the Division Director of Community and General Psychiatry, and focuses on researching the health behavior of individuals living with long-term mental illness.
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Senate Subcommittee Approves Health Spending Bill
On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education approved funding for key health and education programs for the first time in seven years. This bill funds critical programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and more. The FY2017 funding measure now awaits consideration from the full Senate Appropriations Committee.
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Mental Health Reform Could be Tied to Addictions Legislation
Last week, rumors circulated on Capitol Hill that a mental health reform bill might be added to the opioid legislation that is currently being worked on by a conference committee. The idea is being floated by several congressional aides who are suggesting the possibility of adding the Mental Health Reform Act (S.2680) sponsored by Chris Murphy (D- CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to the opioid legislation in conference.
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Senators Host a Bipartisan Summit on Mental Health
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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House Committee Circulates Compromise Mental Health Draft Bill, Vote Likely in June
On Monday, news broke that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) had begun circulating a revised draft of comprehensive mental health reform legislation. According to congressional staff familiar with the situation, the Chairman is pushing a modified bill including provisions from both Rep. Tim Murphy’s (R-PA) bill – Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) and Rep. Gene Greene’s (D-TX) bill – Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act (H.R. 4435).
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HHS Finalizes Wide-Ranging ACA Nondiscrimination Rule
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) issued its final rule on nondiscrimination in federal health care programs and activities. The final rule prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex in all health programs and activities, any part of which receives federal financial assistance administered by HHS. The rule takes effect on July 18, 2016.
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CCBHC’s Are Coming to NatCon16
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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DOL, Advocates Discuss Delayed Implementation of Home Health Care Worker Overtime Rule
On Monday, officials from the Department of Labor (DOL) attended a meeting with patient advocacy organizations, including the National Council, to discuss the implementation of the home health care worker overtime rule. This rule, which was issued back in 2014, extends minimum wage and overtime protections to almost 2 million home health care workers. This rule is different than the overtime proposed rules the Department issued in July that would affect the entire American workforce.
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Speaker of the House John Boehner Announces His Retirement
On Friday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced his intentions to retire from Congress at the end of October. The news shocked the political world and immediately sparked a race for Republican leadership positions in the House of Representatives. As promised on the day of his announcement, the Speaker oversaw the approval of a continuing resolution on Wednesday, funding the government through December 11.
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HHS Provides Funding to Community Health Centers, Increasing Care Access for Millions
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week $169 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 266 new health center sites, increasing access to health care services for an estimated 1.2 million people (HHS). The National Council congratulates our members who were selected to receive grants. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), health centers serve 1 in 14 people living in the United States.
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Applications for Health Disparities Leadership Program Launched
The next class of the National Council’s Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program has been announced. Through a highly competitive application process, the National Council will choose 24 emerging leaders from across the country to participate in this 10-month intensive program designed to reduce disparities for ethnic, racial, and LGBT populations that receive community-based behavioral health services.
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