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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.

Bipartisan Criminal Justice, Mental Health Bill Introduce in House and Senate

February 13, 2020 | Justice | Mental Health | Comments
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Michael Petruzzelli

Director, Federal Policy & Advocacy

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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Members of Congress Address Mental Health Crisis at Kennedy Forum Event

February 13, 2020 | Mental Health | Parity | Comments
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Natalie Weiner

Manager, Policy & Advocacy

The Kennedy Forum hosted “Agenda for Change: Unite. Connect. Act.” last week, an event on Capitol Hill featuring members of congress, advocates, consumers, and philanthropists who discussed the current mental health crisis and steps for action.

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Take Action: Support 9-8-8 as National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

February 7, 2020 | Mental Health | Comments
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Michael Petruzzelli

Director, Federal Policy & Advocacy

This week, the National Council submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in support of the Commission’s unanimous vote to designate 9-8-8 as the three-digit dialing code for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. Advocates have an opportunity to submit their own support comments to the FCC before the February 14th deadline.

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ONDCP Releases 2020 National Drug Control Strategy and Rural Toolkit

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently released its annual report on the National Drug Control Strategy as well as a new toolkit to assist rural communities in responding to the addiction crisis. The 2020 National Strategy prioritizes increasing access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and supporting those in recovery with peer services, access to housing, training, education, and employment.

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GAO Report Highlights Barriers to MAT Access in Medicaid

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Shelley Starkey

Although Medicaid is one of the largest sources of coverage for individuals receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT), an evidence-based best practice for treating opioid use disorder (OUD), there remain some roadblocks for patients to access the life-saving treatment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last week highlighting state and federal policy barriers for Medicaid enrollees to access MAT. GAO also included recommendations that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ensure that states comply with federal requirements to cover MAT medications.

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Update on ACA Legal Status

January 16, 2020 | ACA | Comments
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Natalie Weiner

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide whether to expedite a review of Texas v. United States, the court case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would invalidate the entire law, leaving an estimated 20 million people uninsured ahead of the November 2020 elections. […]

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House Committee Convenes Panel on State Efforts to Address the Opioid Crisis

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on how states have used federal funds to address the opioid epidemic. Representatives from five state departments of health spoke on successes through increased Medication-Assisted Treatment, Medicaid expansion, and interventions for justice-involved populations, as well as the critical need for further financial investment, prevention […]

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What to Expect for Behavioral Health in 2020

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Shelley Starkey

From funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics to state Medicaid waivers, 2020 is sure to be a whirlwind for behavioral health and for the health care system at large. While Congress remains split down party lines with Democratic control of the House and Republican control of the Senate, time will tell if any large changes will happen during this election year. Here is a preview of what is likely ahead in health policy in the first year of the new decade.

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Congress Passes FY 2020 Funding

December 20, 2019 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

This week, Congress passed a set of bills that appropriate federal funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. These bills are now with President Trump, and he is expected to sign them into law before the deadline at midnight, Friday, December 20. FY 2020 behavioral health funding prioritizes efforts to address the opioid crisis and increases funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) and behavioral health research.

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CCBHC Demonstration Extended Through May

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Shelley Starkey

As part of the Fiscal Year 2020 funding package, the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program currently operating in 8 states has been extended through May 22, 2020. The bill also provides a $50 million increase to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s CCBHC expansion grants, thanks in large part to Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) efforts. The National Council thanks Congress for its passage of the longest CCBHC funding extension to date and will continue our work advocating for further funding for this critical program.

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Presidential Candidates Discuss Mental Health in New Hampshire

December 20, 2019 | Mental Health | Comments
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Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

The National Council, NH Community Behavioral Health Association, and Mental Health for US held the Unite for Mental Health: New Hampshire Town Hall this past Monday in Manchester, NH. Four 2020 presidential candidates participated: U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), and Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. Candidates provided their positions on mental health and addiction treatment access and answered audience questions. Read more.

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Senate Leaders Call for CCBHC Extension & Expansion

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

On Friday, bipartisan leaders of the Senate Finance Committee reached an agreement on a 2-year extension and more than doubling the current program by adding 11 additional states to the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Medicaid program. This agreement was announced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), lead negotiators on the year-end package of health care bills.

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Join the Unite for Mental Health: New Hampshire Town Hall on 12/16

December 12, 2019 | Addictions | Mental Health | Comments
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Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

On Monday December 16th at 6:30pm ET the Unite for Mental Health: New Hampshire Town Hall will kick off at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. Presidential candidates Governor Weld and Congressman Walsh will share their mental health plans with attendees and answer audience questions. 2X Olympian and Ironman triathlete Sarah True will share her mental health story and Judge Steve Leifman will screen a trailer from his upcoming documentary and discuss his successes. More tickets were just released, and you can watch via Facebook Live.

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Consensus Workgroup Publishes Recommendations to Improve Care in the Justice System

December 12, 2019 | Justice | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

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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FCC Announces Next Steps to Update National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

November 21, 2019 | Mental Health | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

This week, the National Council hosted Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, along with leaders from Congress, federal agencies and community groups, to discuss a proposal to establish “9-8-8” as the new national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline number. This announcement closely mirrors Congress’s work on the issue via the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2019 (H.R. 4194/S. 2661), which would also designate “9-8-8” as the new suicide prevention hotline number, with a direct line to the Veterans’ Crisis Line.

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National Council Staff Presents at Congressional Briefing on Addiction

November 21, 2019 | Addictions | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

On Wednesday, Tom Hill, Vice President of Practice Improvement at the National Council, spoke at a congressional briefing on federal and state financing for recovery support services. The briefing, which was hosted by Young People in Recovery, highlighted various funding streams for addiction services, including State Opioid Response (SOR) grants, transferrable tax credits, and Section 1115 Demonstration Waivers.

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CMS Proposes Rule to Modify Medicaid Supplemental Payments

November 15, 2019 | Medicaid | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that aims to increase transparency and reporting on state supplemental payments and financing arrangements in Medicaid. In an accompanying fact sheet, CMS stated that the proposed rule will equip the agency with improved oversight and tracking tools, allowing regulators to end state financing arrangements they consider to be impermissible. While we do not expect that most mental health and addiction providers will be directly affected, ultimately, these changes could result in a decrease in overall Medicaid resources available to states.

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House Bill Would Increase Provider Education for MAT

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Shelley Starkey

Policy Associate

The Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act (H.R. 4974) would standardize substance use disorder (SUD) training for providers that prescribe Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) scheduled medications, such as those used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). The bipartisan bill, introduced in the House last week, would help to increase access to high-quality care for individuals living […]

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Washington Post Live Event Highlights Veterans’ Mental Health

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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT) spoke at a Washington Post Live event this week about veterans’ mental health and their new bill, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (S. 785). On average, 20 veterans die by suicide every day, with only 6 of those having received treatment […]

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DEA Misses Deadline for Teleprescribing Special Registration

October 31, 2019 | Addictions | Telehealth | Comments
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Malka Berro

Policy Associate

Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officially missed its deadline to submit its plans to Congress on how it will execute a special registration process that would allow providers to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine. The directive from Congress was passed in last year’s SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act and was aimed at combatting the opioid crisis by increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). DEA was given one year from the signing of that law to create and release its plan to initiate this special registration process. While the agency admits it missed the deadline, no plans have yet been announced to comply with the law and finalize the special registration process.

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