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Archive: Workforce

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.

House Bill Seeks to Address Mental Health Workforce Shortage

August 2, 2018 | Workforce | Comments

Shelley Starkey

A new bill would establish a loan repayment program for mental health care providers that commit to working in designated high-needs communities. Representatives John Katko (R-NY) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan legislation, called the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act of 2018 (H.R.6597), to address a critical shortage in the number of mental health care providers across the country.

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House Passes First Wave of Opioid Bills

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the House of Representatives kicked off a two-week focus on legislation to address the nation’s opioid crisis. The House passed dozens of measures this week and is slated to vote on more opioid legislation next week with the hopes of advancing a comprehensive package to the Senate. Bills that advanced this week included efforts to expand: telemedicine prescribing for medication-assisted treatment, student loan forgiveness for addiction treatment professionals, the use of electronic health records by behavioral health providers and recovery housing best practices.

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House Committee Continues Work on Opioid Package

Shelley Starkey

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held its first of two hearings to consider a large package of legislation aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. The full Committee approved 25 of the 56 bills that had advanced from the Health Subcommittee, and is slated to review the remaining legislation next week with the hopes of advancing a comprehensive package to the House floor by Memorial Day. Bills that advanced this week included efforts to expand: telemedicine prescribing for medication-assisted treatment, student loan forgiveness for addiction treatment professionals and use of electronic health records by behavioral health providers.

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Capitol Hill Briefing Highlights Adding MFTs and Counselors to Medicare

March 14, 2018 | Medicare | Workforce | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Thursday, the National Council for Behavioral Health, on behalf of the Medicare Access Coalition, hosted two congressional staff briefings on improving Medicare to better serve seniors with mental illness. The briefing featured community mental health professionals from Peak Wellness Center, who shared the challenges they face in finding Medicare-eligible providers to treat their older adult clients. The event highlighted pending bipartisan legislation that would expand the mental health workforce by adding marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to the Medicare program.

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House Committee Holds Hearing on Opioid Epidemic Response

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee convened a hearing on potential solutions to address the opioid epidemic on Wednesday. The hearing featured testimony from National Council member, Richard Nance, who presented recommendations for improving access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), the gold standard of opioid addiction treatment, via telemedicine. The hearing was the first of three hearings devoted to crafting a broad legislative package to curb the use of prescription and illicit opioids.

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Eight Opioid Bills and CARA 2.0 Slated for Consideration in Congress

Shelley Starkey

In the midst of an ongoing epidemic of prescription and illicit opioid addiction, which largely drove the more than 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, Congress is eagerly seeking solutions. Both the House and the Senate introduced a flurry of bills aimed at combating the opioid epidemic from many angles. The Senate is working on follow-up legislation to the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), while the House is considering a package of eight opioid-focused bills.

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Bill Introduced to Renew Teaching Health Centers Program

August 3, 2017 | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last month, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill to reauthorize the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program for three years. The program, currently recruiting and training nearly 1,000 medical professionals across the country, focuses efforts on medical and behavioral health services in rural and underserved communities. Importantly, the program includes psychiatry as a residency option.

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Senate Bill Aims to Bolster Addictions Treatment Workforce

July 6, 2017 | Addictions | Workforce | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

A new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate last week with the strong support and advocacy of the National Council would help to bolster the addictions treatment workforce by extending scholarships and student loan repayment opportunities to qualifying providers working in certain addiction settings. The Strengthening the Addiction Treatment Workforce Act (S.1453) would add addictions treatment facilities to the National Health Service Corps’ list of eligible sites for loan forgiveness, providing an incentive to providers who seek jobs at these facilities in underserved communities.

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Bipartisan House Bill Aims to Expand Medicare Coverage for Mental Health Services

June 29, 2017 | Medicare | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A new bipartisan House bill would create greater access to mental health care in rural communities across the country. The bill – the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (H.R. 3032) – would allow marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and licensed mental health counselors to directly bill Medicare for their services. Similar legislation has been introduced in previous sessions of Congress and again has the support of the National Council.

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Court Ruling Blocks Overtime Pay Rule, Halts Enforcement Nationwide

December 1, 2016 | Workforce | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction blocking the implementation of the Department of Labor’s new overtime regulation, set to take effect December 1. The regulation raises the exemption threshold for employee overtime pay from its current level of $23,660 to approximately $47,476.

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New Rural Health Bill Expands Access to Care under Medicare

October 13, 2016 | Medicare | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A new bill introduced by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) would provide a robust and comprehensive answer to a myriad of issues facing health care access in rural communities. Among its many provisions including grant reauthorization and provider trainings, the bill – the Craig Thomas Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act (R-HoPE) – would expand the eligible provider pool by allowing marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and licensed mental health counselors to directly bill Medicare for their services. These provisions are identical to a longtime National Council legislative priority and 2016 Hill Day ask – the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2015 (S. 1830/H.R. 2759).

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National Council Launches BHECON: A Behavioral Health and Economics Network

August 4, 2016 | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Despite growing demand, far too many Americans live without access to the mental health services they need. Between workforce shortages, dismally low reimbursement rates and financing methodologies that often fail to cover critical treatment services, health care providers struggle to build capacity to serve all individuals living with mental illnesses. This week, the National Council launched a new initiative – the Behavioral Health and Economics Network (BHECON) – to unite diverse stakeholders to identify, examine and advance policy reforms to strengthen states’ mental health delivery systems.

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Department of Labor Finalizes Overtime Rule

May 19, 2016 | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, the Department of Labor published its final rule changing the federal overtime payment limit, raising the salary threshold for overtime pay to $47,476. The final rule links this salary to inflation, meaning that the overtime exemption threshold will automatically rise every three years. The rule takes effect on December 1, 2016.

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New Legislation Would Block Federal Overtime Rule

March 24, 2016 | Workforce | Comments

Jacquelyn Sommer

, National Council for Behavioral Health

A controversial overtime pay proposal would be stopped in its tracks under new legislation introduced this week in the House and Senate. The Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act would force the Department of Labor to nullify its proposed rule raising the salary threshold for overtime pay and conduct a full economic impact assessment before issuing a new rule. . The introduction of the legislation came as the White House Office of Management and Budget embarked on its review of final changes to the proposed rule, the last step before a regulation becomes law.

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Congress Continues Focus on Substance Use and Mental Health Issues

October 8, 2015 | Addictions | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The 114th Congress has introduced dozens of substance use and mental health bills addressing a wide range of issues in behavioral treatment services and funding. This week, two more bills were added to that total. This continued commitment to addressing and enhancing our nation’s behavioral health public safety net is a tremendous sign for consumers, providers, and advocates across the country.

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National Council Wins “Transforming Clinical Practices Initiatives” Award

October 1, 2015 | Quality | Workforce | Comments
conditions of participation

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $685 million to 39 national and regional collaboratives, including the National Council for Behavioral Health, to participate in the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative. The National Council was awarded a four-year grant to provide technical assistance to clinicians serving individuals with serious mental illnesses in New York.

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HHS Announces Effort to Revise Patient Caps for Buprenorphine Prescribers

September 24, 2015 | Addictions | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held a two-day, 50-state convening of state representatives to identify needed federal policy changes to prevent opioid overdose and abuse. During the course of the discussion, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the agency’s intention to revise current caps limiting the number of patients that can be seen by buprenorphine prescribers.

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Apply Now: Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program

August 27, 2015 | Workforce | Comments

Adam Swanson

Senior Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council’s 2015 Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program wrapped up 10-months’ worth of programming in Washington, D.C. this week. The Program fosters mid-level managers working in mental health and addiction service organizations who are eager to gain the awareness, knowledge, and skills to develop and lead strategies to eliminate health disparities within their communities.

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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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New Legislation Would Help Build Health Care Workforce

March 4, 2015 | Workforce | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives this week would provide millions of dollars to states to help build and advance the health care workforce. The bill, led by Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), authorizes states to create scholarships to help fund the advanced education of health care professionals. The bill also creates grants to develop and promote new competencies, including education and training for mental health and substance use providers.

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