NABH Submits Comments on IPF-PPS FY 2022 Proposed Rule
NABH on Friday submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the agency’s inpatient psychiatric facility (IPF) prospective payment system (PPS) proposed rule for fiscal year 2022.
The eight-page letter provided an overview of how the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increasing need for quality mental health and addiction treatment in America, and how previous pandemics have had an effect on behavioral health for years to come.
NABH offered comments on labor market delineations, the wage index, and several issues related to the Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting Program.
CMS will accept public comments until Monday, June 7.
U.S. Senate Confirms Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as CMS Administrator
In a 55-44 vote, the U.S. Senate this week confirmed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to lead CMS as the agency’s administrator.
Most recently Brooks-LaSure served as the managing director of the health division at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. Previously she served as the director of coverage policy at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) during the Obama administration, where she led implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage and insurance reform policy provisions.
Earlier, the Senate Finance Committee had split evenly on whether to advance Brooks-LaSure’s nomination, with all Republicans on the panel not supporting her. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was able to bring her nomination vote to the Senate floor through a procedural vote.
HHS Commits $4.8 Billion to Reimburse Providers for Covid-19 Testing for the Uninsured
HHS this week announced it will dedicate $4.8 billion from the American Rescue Plan to support the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Covid-19 Uninsured Program. Specifically, the funding will allow the program to reimburse healthcare providers for testing uninsured individuals for Covid-19.
“As we vaccinate the country, let’s continue taking the preventive measures necessary to keep the virus under control and prevent it from spreading,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in an announcement. “Testing remains critical and now it’s available at no cost to those who need it,” he added. “This funding will help ensure everyone has access to testing regardless of whether they have health insurance.”
Click here to learn more about HRSA’s Covid-19 Uninsured Program.
NABH and Other National Organizations Urge Biden Administration to Name ONDCP Director
This week NABH coordinated an effort among several leading addiction treatment groups and other national organizations to send a letter urging President Biden to name a director to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Regina LaBelle, on a leave of absence from her position as program director of the Addiction and Public Policy Initiative at Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, currently serves as the office’s acting director.
NABH and the other organizations—including the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, and the National Safety Council—expressed concern that a nominee to the post has not yet been named, especially when the Covid-19 global pandemic has accelerated the nation’s drug overdose deaths through a combination of treatment disruptions, social isolation, and other challenges.
“The Biden-Harris Administration’s Statement of Drug Policy Priorities for Year One was a concise and focused document that clearly identified issues that need addressing,” the letter said. “An ONDCP director is now needed to implement, and build upon, those priorities for a nation that continues to be devastated by the preventable and treatable disease of addiction and drug overdoses.”
Politico wrote a story about the letter on May 27, calling it “the first notable sign of public pressure on Biden to fill the drug czar role, which he’s long supported.”
NABH and Other Mental Health and Addiction Groups Urge Congress to Fund 988 Hotline Infrastructure
NABH was one of more than two dozen mental health and addiction organizations that sent a letter to congressional leaders, requesting that Congress provide funding to build the needed infrastructure to support the nation’s 988 crisis hotline.
In its letter to the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate, the organizations recommend that Congress, at a minimum, invest $10 billion in a 988 crisis hotline infrastructure package.
“While there is a clear vision for what a successful 988 crisis response system requires, there are very few examples of systems that meet these standards,” the letter said. “Existing suicide prevention call centers rely on a patchwork of inadequate funding, leaving insufficient capacity to meet current needs, let alone the increased demand spurred by the adoption of 988,” it continued. “There is growing availability of mobile crisis teams, but demand still far outstrips supply, particularly for children and adolescents. And there is a nationwide dearth of crisis stabilization programs. Finally, there are widespread shortages of behavioral health professionals to staff crisis response systems.”
The groups noted that the funding could provide for technology, training, and operations at crisis call centers; expand capital projects to include crisis receiving and stabilization and peer respite programs; broaden federal loan repayment criteria to include crisis call centers, mobile crisis teams, crisis receiving and stabilization programs; and develop behavioral health workforce training programs.
Napolitano, Kaptur, Lee Urge HHS to Expand Mental Health Workforce
NABH recently supported a letter from three House Democrats who are urging HHS to include mental health and substance use treatment providers within the $7.6 billion public health workforce expansion included in the American Rescue Plan.
In their May 21 letter to HHS, Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) wrote that a section of the new law can support about 100,000 new positions. The congresswomen—with support from other Democrats—recommend that one-third of those positions be devoted to behavioral health.
“This number would permit each small county to add five behavioral health providers, each mid-sized county to add 10 providers, and each large county to add 20 providers,” they wrote. “County public health workers should also receive basic training for the screening of common mental health and substance use disorders, which would allow them to identify struggling Americans and refer them to services,” they added.
Click here to read the full letter.
New DOE Guidance on American Rescue Plan Funding for Schools Includes Mental Health
The U.S. Education Department (ED) recently released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about how funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, including the American Rescue Plan’s ESSER program, and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, may be used to address the pandemic’s effects on students in pre-K-12 education.
The FAQ mentions mental health services throughout the document and includes providing “positive behavioral interventions and supports and mental health services for children with disabilities” and “meeting rising mental health and behavioral needs (for example, contracting with community mental health providers to support students virtually and/or on-site at school).”
Members of the NABH team have had recent discussions with the ED staff and discussed several items outlined in the guidance.
AHRQ Seeking Information on Evaluation of Mental Health Applications
HHS’ Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking scientific information to help inform the agency’s review on Evaluation of Mental Health Applications, which AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Centers Program is conducting.
The federal notice said access to both published and unpublished pertinent, scientific information will improve the quality of the review.
Submissions are due 30 days from the May 21 notice. Click here to learn more.
NABH President and CEO Highlights IMD Repeal in LinkedIn Pulse Article
As Mental Health Month draws to a close, NABH President and CEO Shawn Coughlin this week reflected on improving America’s approach to mental healthcare in part by repealing Medicaid’s outdated Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion.
In a LinkedIn Pulse article, Coughlin provided an overview of the IMD exclusion and highlighted congressional leaders who are working to solve this issue: Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.). Emmer has re-introduced Expanding Access to Inpatient Mental Health Act, which would eliminate the IMD exclusion’s arbitrary cap on mental health services. Specifically, it would eliminate the 15-day cap for Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) and Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan (PIHP) beneficiaries receiving care in an IMD.
Meanwhile, Napolitano’s Increasing Behavioral Health Treatment Act would repeal the IMD exclusion and require states to submit a plan to: increase access to outpatient and community-based behavioral health care; increase availability of crisis stabilization services; and improve data sharing and coordination between physical health, mental health, and addiction treatment providers and first responders.
“Efforts such as these,” Coughlin wrote, “could ensure Medicaid beneficiaries finally receive the professionally guided care they deserve, and we can ensure that clinicians, not artificial restrictions, govern mental healthcare for all Americans.”
Kennedy Forum to Host June 7 Webinar on Future of Mental Healthcare
The Kennedy Forum will feature Mental Health America CEO Paul Gionfriddo and National Alliance on Mental Illness CEO Daniel Gillison, Jr. in a webinar about the future of mental healthcare on Monday, June 7.
Other panelists will include Kennedy Forum founder and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.); Peter O’Brien, chairman of The Kennedy Forum Illinois; and Cheryl Potts, executive director at The Kennedy Forum Illinois.
The webinar will begin at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to register.
Registration Now Open for the NABH 2021 Annual Meeting
Registration is open for the NABH 2021 Annual Meeting from Wednesday, Oct. 6 – Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 at the Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC.
We hope you join us as we recognize our meeting theme, Expanding Access: Right Care. Right Setting. Right Time.
Please visit our Annual Meeting webpage to register for the meeting and to reserve your hotel room. We look forward to seeing you in Washington!
Fact of the Week
A recent study of more than 2,800 U.S. coal miners showed that nearly 40% of these workers reported symptoms consistent with major depressive disorder and anxiety, while more than one in 10 reported actively thinking about suicide.
For questions or comments about this CEO Update, please contact Jessica Zigmond.