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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.

House Votes to Block IRS from Enforcing Health Reform

August 6, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In its last action before a five-week summer recess, the House voted late last week to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from enforcing or carrying out any provision of the Affordable Care Act. Approved in a largely party-line 232-185 vote, the bill, dubbed “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act” (H.R. 2009) now goes to the Senate, where it has virtually no chance of approval.

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House Committee Unanimously Approves Medicare Physician Pay Reform

August 1, 2013 | Medicare | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The House Energy & Commerce Committee this week unanimously passed legislation to reform and repeal the Medicare physician Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. This formula requires yearly adjustments to physician pay to bring it into line with an approved formula for sustainability; however, in practice it has resulted in large potential cuts that Congress overrides each year. Physicians and Medicare advocates have long urged a permanent fix for the SGR, but Congress to date has not been able to agree on how to offset the expense.

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Open Enrollment Begins Oct. 1. Are you ready?

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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

October 1, 2013 is the start of open enrollment in health insurance exchanges and the Medicaid expansion. It’s also when many of the consumers that your organization serves will become eligible for one of these new coverage options.

Are you ready? Are they ready?

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National Council Submits Comments on Opioid Treatment Programs

July 25, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

In response to SAMHSA’s recently released draft Federal Guidelines for Opioid Treatment 2013, the National Council has submitted comments to the agency commending its focus on recovery-oriented systems of care and the role of telemedicine in expanding access to care. Our comments also urge SAMHSA to make the guidelines more inclusive of extended-release injectable naltrexone and to encourage staff in opioid treatment settings to be trained in Mental Health First Aid.

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White House Hosts First-Ever Veterans and Military Family Mental Health Conference

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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On July 11, the White House hosted the first-ever Veterans and Military Family Mental Health Conference. The event brought together Administration leaders, Veteran Service Organizations, military service organizations, mental health professionals, and leaders from the Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs to discuss issues related to expanding access to mental healthcare for veterans and military families.

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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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Chuck Ingoglia

, 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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