Congressional Hearings Focused on Mental Health and Substance Use Crises, Survey Results on Telehealth Use in 2021


Last week, the vaccine mandate for employees of health facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs took effect. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a guidance letter this week that encouraged health care workers to get vaccinated as well as provided health care administrators with official guidance and resources for their facilities.

Main Stories:

  • Congressional Hearings on the Mental Health and Substance Use Crises
  • National Survey on Telehealth Use is 2021: Disparities between Audio and Video
  • HHS Semiannual Regulatory Agenda
  • NCSACW Webinar on How States Serve Infants and their Families Affected by Prenatal Substance Exposure

Congressional Hearings on the Mental Health and Substance Use Crises

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on mental health and substance use disorders. Witnesses included Jennifer D. Lockman of Centerstone Research Institute, a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) and National Council member. Additionally, on Wednesday, the House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on America’s mental health crisis. In both hearings, members of Congress were engaged in discussions on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and substance use, the need for Mental Health First Aid, and mental health parity, among other important topics. For summaries of the Senate HELP hearing, click here, and for the House Ways and Means hearing, click here.

National Survey on Telehealth Use is 2021: Disparities between Audio and Video

This week, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report on the trends of telehealth use in 2021. While the utilization of telehealth increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to telehealth is still inequitable across population subgroups. The groups with the highest rates of telehealth use were Medicare and Medicaid recipients, Black individuals, and people earning less than $25,000 a year. Further, the biggest disparities in telehealth were in the usage of video-services, with major differences across groups based on age, education, income and race. For more information about the survey, click here.

HHS Semiannual Regulatory Agenda Published

This week, HHS released its semiannual regulatory agenda, outlining the regulatory activities that it intends to undertake in the foreseeable future. HHS included proposed and final rulemakings to address the COVID-19 pandemic, access to affordable health care, and health disparities and equity, among other items. Notably, the agenda includes extended take home doses of methadone to treat opioid use disorder. This follows the Unified Agenda from fall 2021, which included additional proposals related to opioid use disorder.

NCSACW Webinar on Prenatal Substance Exposure

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) will be holding a learning exchange webinar on innovative policies and practices that support families affected by prenatal substance exposure. The webinar will provide an overview of the experience and progress of states since the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) amendments to the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA). This webinar will be held on February 8, 2022 at 10:30 AM, to register click here.


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HHS Announces a Standard Clinical Definition for Opioid Withdrawal in Infants. In accordance with the Overdose Prevention Strategy released last year, HHS has announced a standard clinical definition for opioid withdrawal in infants. For the last 45 years, there has been no standard clinical definition in the care of mothers and infants impacted by opioid exposure. The definition, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, includes prenatal exposure and specific evidence-based clinical signs.

Guest Author

Mollie Laird
Associate, Federal Policy