Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz resigned yesterday as the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. The National Council sincerely thanks Dr. McCance-Katz for her service and contributions to the behavioral health community. Read her statement here.
CMS Guidance on End-of-Pandemic Medicaid Changes
On December 22, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to state health officials on preparations to return to normal operations after the conclusion of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the public health emergency (PHE) is not extended again like it was yesterday, several temporary authorities will expire, continuous enrollment requirements will end, and additional federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) will revert to prior amounts. CMS noted that flexibilities such as allowing the use of telehealth in 1915(c) waiver populations could be extended through a state plan amendment (SPA) or a modified 1915(c) waiver, or permanently extended through state action. The current PHE extends through April 21, 2021.
Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health Awareness Training Grants
In December, the federal government appropriated $16.7+ million in funding for projects like Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) in FY2021. Take advantage of this opportunity – apply for a Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) grant by Friday, February 5! MHAT grants will help expand MHFA to more schools, first responders, veterans, and other communities, enabling more people to identify, understand and respond when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.
SAMHSA Accepting 2021 Applications for CCBHC Grants
SAMHSA announced that applications for FY21 Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) grants are now being accepted. The grants are available to community treatment providers in every state. Qualified applicants must be a CCBHC or be able to meet the requirements of a CCBHC within four months of receiving a grant. Applicants must be either a nonprofit or local government behavioral health authority.
State Medicaid Programs Required to Cover MAT
Last week, CMS sent a letter to state health officials providing guidance on requirements in the SUPPORT Act for state Medicaid plans to cover medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapy for opioid use disorders (OUD). CMS noted that states are now required to cover methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone as MAT under the new mandatory benefit. According to the letter, “CMS interprets the statute to require coverage of all forms of the drugs and biologicals that the FDA has approved or licensed for treatment of OUD. States are also required to cover counseling services and behavioral therapies associated with provision of the required drug and biological coverage.” This mandatory benefit for a 5-year period began on October 1, 2020.
Delta Center Application Extended to January 20
The Delta Center for a Thriving Safety Net is a national initiative supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that brings together behavioral health associations and primary care associations to advance policy and practice change. The National Council’s behavioral health association members are encouraged to apply to receive $240,000 over the course of the 27-month project in collaboration with their primary care association partners. The proposal deadline has recently been extended to January 20, 2021 at 8 p.m. ET. Visit the Delta Center website for more information on the application process, key dates, an informational webinar recording, and FAQs.
Advocacy Tip of the Week: Get to know your new legislators! This page outlines the new Members of the 117th Congress.
HAPPENING ON THE HILL
Georgia Runoff Results Determine Senate Majority
Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have been declared the winners in the Georgia special election over incumbents Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). These Senate seats provide Democrats majorities in both chambers, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote in a 50-50 Senate.
Congress Affirms President-Elect Biden’s Win. The House and Senate this week counted the Electoral College votes and affirmed Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.