“Today, we move one step closer to improving how justice-involved people receive mental health and substance use disorder treatment… On behalf of the National Council, I thank Sens. Cornyn (R-TX) and Blumenthal (D-CT), as well as Reps. Trone (D-MD), Rutherford (R-FL), Dean (D-PA), Reschenthaler (R-PA), Scanlon (D-PA), and Armstrong (R-ND) for continuing to prioritize improving mental health and substance use disorder treatment for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to lawmakers in both chambers for tirelessly working together to successfully pass the strongest possible bill. Once signed, this bill will have an immediate impact in communities across the country. We look forward to it becoming law.” – Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, on the passage of the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act.
Congress Passes Crisis Stabilization
Following bipartisan and bicameral negotiation this week, Congress passed the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act. This legislation is designed to provide aid and resources for care coordination efforts between community mental health and addiction treatment centers and local law enforcement agencies. This marks a significant win for our behavioral health advocates nationwide, and especially for our Hill Day at Home advocates who made their voices heard this year in support of the legislation.
HHS Increases and Begins Distributing Phase 3 Provider Relief Funds
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it had completed the review of applications from Phase 3 of the Provider Relief Fund. The agency increased the overall Phase 3 funding from $20 billion to $24.5 – funding that will be being distributed to 70,000+ providers now through January 2021. HHS noted that “this funding will distribute to providers up to 88 percent of their reported losses.” Click here for a state-by-state breakdown of the Phase 3 payments.
New Guidelines on Suicide Screening During Telehealth
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention recently released suicide screening guidelines for telehealth visits as an addendum to its report Recommended Standard Care for People with Suicide Risk: Making Mental Health Care Suicide Safe. The Alliance lists five recommendations: routinely assessing for suicide or self-harm, screening for mental health disorders, specific questions on suicidal ideation, clear protocols for identifying a positive screen, and a clear process on next steps.
HHS Proposes Major Updates to HIPAA
Last week, HHS released proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that aim to improve care coordination and give patients greater access to their health own information. These changes seek to: (1) improve information sharing for care coordination and case management; (2) facilitate greater family and caregiver involvement in the care of individuals experiencing emergencies or health crises; (3) enhance flexibilities for disclosures in emergency or threatening circumstances, such as the Opioid and COVID-19 public health emergencies; and (4) reduce administrative burdens on HIPAA-covered health care providers and health plans, while continuing to protect individuals’ health information privacy interests. This regulation will now undergo a 60-day comment period.
NatCon 2021 Call for Proposals
Today is the last day to submit your NatCon21 presentation proposal! Don’t miss your chance to educate 6,000+ colleagues at NatCon21 from May 3-5, a must-attend event for visionaries, thought leaders, and game-changers who are shaping the health care field. Submit your presentation proposal for consideration by Friday, December 18, at 11:59 p.m. PT.
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HAPPENING ON THE HILL
Appropriation and COVID-19 Negotiations Continue. Congress is continuing to work on a COVID-19 relief bill, as well as an omnibus spending package to fund the federal government for FY 2021. Final details on what is in the appropriations package may come this weekend. Stay tuned to Capitol Connector for more information as this story progresses.