National Council Launches BHECON: A Behavioral Health and Economics Network
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.
Read More on National Council Launches BHECON: A Behavioral Health and Economics Network
Department of Labor Finalizes Overtime Rule
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.
Read More on Department of Labor Finalizes Overtime Rule
New Legislation Would Block Federal Overtime Rule
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.
Read More on New Legislation Would Block Federal Overtime Rule
Congress Continues Focus on Substance Use and Mental Health Issues
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.
Read More on Congress Continues Focus on Substance Use and Mental Health Issues
National Council Wins “Transforming Clinical Practices Initiatives” Award
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $685 million to 39 national and regional collaboratives, including the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, 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.
Read More on National Council Wins “Transforming Clinical Practices Initiatives” Award
HHS Announces Effort to Revise Patient Caps for Buprenorphine Prescribers
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.
Read More on HHS Announces Effort to Revise Patient Caps for Buprenorphine Prescribers
Apply Now: Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program
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.
Read More on Apply Now: Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program
National Council Issues Template Comments on Proposed Overtime Rule
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.
Read More on National Council Issues Template Comments on Proposed Overtime Rule
New Legislation Would Help Build Health Care Workforce
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.
Read More on New Legislation Would Help Build Health Care Workforce
More Change is Coming to Health Care: Be Prepared with Effective Leadership at Every Level
Change is afoot in health care with the rollout of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, new health care reform legislation, and a new budget season just beginning. Organizations need strong leadership to guide them through these challenging times and set them up for continued resilience in the future. That’s why the National Council has always offered an array of leadership and workforce development programs for leaders at every level of your organization.
Read More on More Change is Coming to Health Care: Be Prepared with Effective Leadership at Every Level
Federal Court Strikes Down DOL Minimum Wage Rule for Home Care Workers
Earlier this month, a federal court effectively invalidated the Department of Labor’s home care rule extending minimum wage and overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to almost 2 million home care workers. Home care workers play an important role in the lives of those with disabilities, ensuring that individuals who receive home care services are not at risk of institutionalization or segregation. The final rule had been slated to go into effect on January 1, 2015.
Read More on Federal Court Strikes Down DOL Minimum Wage Rule for Home Care Workers
E/M Codes: New Issue Brief Outlines Advocacy Strategies for Adoption
A new National Council issue brief, Coding for Behavioral Health Services: Evaluation and Management CPT Code Adoption, outlines advocacy strategies for improving reimbursement and adoption of the Evaluation and Management (E/M) code set for behavioral health services provided by certain medical professionals.
Read More on E/M Codes: New Issue Brief Outlines Advocacy Strategies for Adoption
DoJ and HHS Issue Guidance Clarifying New Home Care Rule
Last month, the Departments of Justice (DoJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a “Dear Colleague” letter providing guidance on the Department of Labor’s new home care rule, which extended minimum wage and overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act to most home care workers. The letter describes the obligations of public entities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision as they begin to implement the rule.
Read More on DoJ and HHS Issue Guidance Clarifying New Home Care Rule
Behavioral Health IT Coalition Hosts Congressional Briefing on Interoperability
On December 3, the Behavioral Health IT (BHIT) Coalition held a briefing for congressional staff to discuss how mental health and addiction treatment communities are addressing health information exchange and electronic health record (EHR) interoperability. This was the fourth briefing held by the coalition urging congressional action to include behavioral health providers in the EHR financial incentive program, called Meaningful Use.
Read More on Behavioral Health IT Coalition Hosts Congressional Briefing on Interoperability
Toolkit Analyzes Role of Graduate Medical Education in Addressing Physician Shortages
In response to ongoing national discussions of the health care workforce shortage, the Alliance for Health Reform has released a toolkit analyzing the physician shortage and providing recommendations for increasing recruitment and placement efforts. Specifically, the toolkit analyzes the role graduate medical education (GME) programming plays in strengthening the workforce, with positive effects for physicians across all specialties, including psychiatry. Eighty million Americans currently live in a mental health shortage area, according to the Health Resources Services Administration.
Read More on Toolkit Analyzes Role of Graduate Medical Education in Addressing Physician Shortages
Health Equity and Accountability Act Introduced
“Mental and behavioral health social workers” would be eligible for federal loan repayment benefits under new legislation introduced by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) with 70 cosponsors. The Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R.5294) adds these professionals to existing loan repayment programs, a move designed to bolster the behavioral health workforce. It also requires the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Institute of Medicine to conduct a study on “mental and behavioral health disparities in racial and ethnic minority groups” and issue recommendations for improvement to Congress.
Read More on Health Equity and Accountability Act Introduced