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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.

CMS Addresses Overpayments for Services Provided to Incarcerated Beneficiaries

August 27, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released a document providing an update on Medicare demand letters and Medicare claim cancellations associated with an item or service provided to incarcerated beneficiaries.

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Health Reform’s Network Adequacy Standards: New Report, Hill Day Session Announced

August 27, 2013 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The extent to which healthcare services are available to millions of Americans purchasing health insurance through state-based marketplaces under health reform will depend in large part on the adequacy of their health plans’ provider networks. A new report issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in partnership with the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute sheds light on how states are managing network adequacy issues.

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Get Covered America to Hold National Day of Action September 7; Register for CMS Enrollment Webinars

August 27, 2013 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On September 7, groups around the country will host events as part of Get Covered America’s National Day of Action. Get Covered America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan campaign of Enroll America focused on raising public awareness and engaging consumers about the new health insurance available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Obama Administration Delays Cap on Out-of-Pocket Costs for Some Insurers

August 22, 2013 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments
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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Some consumers will not benefit from the health reform law’s caps on out-of-pocket spending until 2015, according to a policy change made quietly by the Obama Administration in February.

The Affordable Care Act contains a number of provisions designed to protect health insurance consumers from catastrophic costs, including a cap on out-of-pocket expenses. Beginning in 2014, the law limits annual deductibles, copayments, and other types of cost sharing to no more than $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family.

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Making Sense Of Premium Rates In Insurance Marketplaces

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

One of the biggest questions around the Affordable Care Act’s upcoming coverage expansions is whether the new state-based insurance marketplaces will result in higher or lower premiums for consumers than the options now available to them. Critics of the health law have speculated that the law’s new requirements on insurance products will lead to skyrocketing premiums, while supporters have argued that greater transparency and competition among insurers will lead to big savings for consumers.

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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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