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Capitol Connector

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.

MITECH Bill Extends Health IT Incentive Payments to Safety Net Clinics

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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Legislation introduced this month in the House and Senate would make federal incentive payments for the use of health IT widely available to a variety of healthcare safety net providers, including community behavioral health centers.

The legislation is known as MITECH, the Medicaid Information Technology to Enhance Community Health (MITECH) Act (S. 1286/H.R. 2676).

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On a personal note: Why I became a behavioral health advocate

July 17, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Charles Ingoglia

Senior VP, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

As the National Council’s Hill Day approaches, we’ve been posting about our great speaker line-up and the important behavioral health legislation that you’ll be talking about with your Members of Congress.

But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on why advocacy is important – and in particular, to tell you about a moment that shaped me.

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National Council Launches Op-Ed Campaign to Build Support for Excellence in Mental Health Act

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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council this week launched a new campaign to raise the profile of the Excellence in Mental Health Act and build congressional support for its passage. Please participate by using this template to submit an op-ed to your local newspapers!

Media coverage is essential to our success because it raises the bill’s profile and highlights the broad support for it in legislators’ home districts. This is especially true of local press and op-eds, which are influential with legislators and lay the groundwork for much of the advocacy we are doing on Capitol Hill.

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What do Medicaid payment rates, Congress, and a pep rally have in common?

July 10, 2013 | Hill Day | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

You may be aware that community behavioral health organizations get paid, on average, only 70% of the cost of providing intensive community-based care.

But did you know that legislation before Congress would fix this inequity, raising Medicaid reimbursement rates for organizations that meet specified criteria? The Excellence in Mental Health Act would put behavioral health providers on equal footing with other safety net entities like community health centers and public hospitals, a long-overdue change.

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NASHP Releases Interactive Medical and Health Home Map

July 9, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) has launched a new interactive map tracking state efforts to advance medical and health homes for Medicaid and CHIP participants.

In recent years, the number of states implementing medical home programs has increased substantially. According to NASHP, as of April 2013, 43 states have adopted policies and programs to advance medical homes.

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Complete National Council/NAMI Access to Care Survey Today

June 25, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council has partnered with NAMI on a nationwide survey of practicing psychiatrists to assess the policy and regulatory barriers that hinder patients’ access to services. Will you please support our policy work by taking a few minutes to fill out the survey?

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Apply Today for National Council’s Advocacy Leadership Awards

June 24, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Have you or someone you know demonstrated leadership and success in behavioral health advocacy over the last year? If so, we encourage you to submit a nomination for the National Council’s Advocacy Leadership Awards! These prestigious awards will recognize and celebrate individuals and organizations who are leading the charge to expand access to services and supports for individuals living with mental illness and substance use conditions.

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Congressional Briefing Addresses Substance Use Disorders in Child Welfare

June 21, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On June 6, 2013, First Focus, along with the National Council for Behavioral Health and 13 other organizations, cosponsored a congressional briefing on “Substance Use Disorders in Child Welfare: What Works for Children and Families.” The briefing educated congressional staff and other attendees on the latest treatment and program advances for substance use disorders that […]

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Top 5 Best Kept Secrets of Hill Day 2013

June 19, 2013 | Hill Day | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Are you new to Hill Day? Or are you an 8-time attendee? Either way, we bet you didn’t know these top 5 best-kept secrets about Hill Day 2013!
5. Hill Day offers unrivaled opportunities for networking with your colleagues. 2013 will be our biggest Hill Day event ever – with attendees ranging from CEOs to board members, peer counselors, consumers, and more!

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Senate Finance Committee Urged to Protect Charitable Deduction

June 19, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

As part of its ongoing review of the U.S. tax system, the Senate Finance Committee this week held a meeting on tax-exempt organizations and charitable giving. At the meeting, Senators received a comprehensive list of all available tax reform options regarding the charitable deduction and other tax policies related to tax-exempt organizations. The document is one in a series spanning all aspects of the U.S. tax system that will help the Committee evaluate current tax policies

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CMS Releases Integrity Guidelines for Insurance Exchanges

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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a proposed rule to establish “integrity guidelines” for the online health insurance marketplaces that are to open for enrollment Oct. 1, 2013. These guidelines are meant to safeguard federal funds and to protect consumers by ensuring that plan issuers and the exchanges themselves comply with federal standards related to affordability, quality, and more.

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Now Available: New National Council, CIHS Resources on Substance Use Disorders

June 18, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The National Council and the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions have made available a number of new resources related to addiction and substance use disorders treatment. At a recent National Council board meeting, Mohini Venkatesh, Senior Director of Public Policy, shared an overview of these resources, events, and information. They include:

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Behavioral Health Bills Introduced in Congress

June 17, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In recent weeks, Members of Congress have introduced a number of bills related to mental health and addiction disorders. Of particular interest to National Council members, these include: Enhanced Access to Medicaid Services Act of 2013 (H.R. 1838/S. 755). Introduced by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) with bipartisan support, this legislation […]

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Susan Dentzer to Keynote Hill Day 2013; Will Discuss Future Healthcare Directions and Policies

June 14, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

When it comes to national healthcare policy, we live in a rapidly changing world. Health reform, parity, and new delivery and payment structures will have a profound and lasting impact on behavioral health providers. So what do we do to prepare?

As the author Isaac Asimov once said, “No sensible decision can be made without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

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Congressman Ron Barber Writes Op-Ed on Access to Mental Healthcare, Mental Health First Aid

June 13, 2013 | Mental Health First Aid | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Writing in Wednesday’s issue of The Hill, Arizona Congressman Ron Barber urged his colleagues in Congress to support the expansion of mental health services in the U.S. Barber highlighted the Mental Health First Aid Act as a key example of legislation that could help prevent future mass shootings.

Barber wrote,

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NAMI Issues Report on Medicaid Expansion and Mental Health

June 12, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

NAMI has released a new report, Medicaid Expansion and Mental Health Care, which explains the importance of Medicaid as a financing mechanism for mental health services and makes the case that Medicaid expansion represents the best chance states have to strengthen mental health systems. The report can be used by advocates as they urge their state governments to participate in the Medicaid expansion.

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CMS Announces Options for States to Facilitate Enrollment in the Medicaid Expansion

June 11, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

States will now be able to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) data to facilitate enrollment in the Medicaid expansion, according to guidance released last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Analyzing SNAP data to identify potential enrollees is just one of several strategies states can begin now to streamline the enrollment transition later this year. On May 17, CMS released a list of five options states can use to ensure that low-income people get and keep Medicaid coverage when the new enrollment system opens in October 2013.

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Rates of Electronic Health Record Use Rise, but Challenges Remain

June 10, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

A new study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that physicians’ adoption of basic electronic health records has risen over the past year, though more advanced use of EHRs for exchanging information among providers or managing the care provided to all of a practice’s patients remains relatively uncommon.

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CCIIO Releases Final Rule for Small Business Health Options Program

June 7, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) released a final rule on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) and, in tandem, finalized SHOP applications for small employers (3 pages) and their employees (2 pages) to use starting on October 1, 2013, in SHOP Marketplaces.

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New Guidance Clarifies Application of Olmstead to HUD Programs

June 7, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued a document outlining how the Supreme Court’s ruling in Olmstead v. LC applies to HUD’s programs and activities. The guidance clarifies that HUD and any entities receiving financial assistance from HUD must provide housing for people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

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