Tell Your Story at Hill Day 2020
Twenty-one million people in the U.S. currently struggle with substance use disorders. Mental illness touches the lives of one in five Americans, and suicide rates have been steadily rising for the past decade. Your advocacy can make a difference in the lives of the countless individuals who need support – use your voice this year with hundreds of your fellow advocates at Hill Day 2020 – June 23-24 in Washington, D.C.
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Experts Weigh in on Continued Efforts to Address Opioid Epidemic
On Wednesday, The Hill convened policymakers and medical experts to discuss steps to expand access to treatment and help those living with opioid addiction begin the journey toward long-term recovery. During a conversation with Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons praised the National Council for its work to bridge the gap between mental health and addiction treatment and highlighted the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767) as a legislative effort to address these issues.
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Circuit Court Upholds Decision to Strike Down Arkansas Medicaid Work Requirements
Last week, a federal appeals court unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling that found work requirements for Medicaid enrollees in Arkansas do not advance the purpose of the health program, blocking the proposal in the state. Although the ruling applies only to Arkansas’s work requirements, it is likely to set a precedent for other legal challenges currently facing a slew of other states that have sought to implement similar proposals following guidance issued by the Trump Administration early last year. The National Council appreciates the work of fellow advocates standing against these harmful work requirements that make it harder for people with substance use disorders and mental illness to receive the care they need.
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White House Releases FY 2021 Budget Request
On Monday the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request which totals $4.8 trillion. The proposal includes significant nondefense discretionary cuts including a nine percent cut to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its agencies. The proposed budget does, however, include $906 million to extend the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program as well as $225 million in CCBHC expansion grants. These funds would enable CCBHCs to continue offering the full range of required mental health and addiction treatment services. Despite the positive signal of support for CCBHCs, the budget also includes major cuts to Medicaid and other critical behavioral health programs that would significantly harm Americans living with mental illness and addiction.
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Bipartisan Criminal Justice, Mental Health Bill Introduce in House and Senate
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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