FY2021 Appropriations, Finalized Physician Fee Schedule


On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted on their initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution recommendations. As written, it is unclear if behavioral health providers and organizations are included under the panel’s recommended Phase 1 vaccination distribution category. This also follows a new report from Sen. Warren (D-MA), Rep. Maloney (D-NY), and Rep. Porter (D-CA), which found that over 50% of surveyed behavioral health facilities had at least one case of COVID-19. In response, the National Council, along with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors and the Mental Health Corporations of America, sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling for behavioral health providers to be included as essential frontline providers for purposes of vaccine distribution.

FY 2021 Appropriations Negotiations Continue

Appropriations officials are moving closer toward a deal that would fund the government for FY 2021.  Congressional appropriators struck an agreement on spending allocations late last week, a significant step that brings legislators closer to avoiding a government shutdown next week. The funding allocations will serve as a framework as Congress looks to clinch a bipartisan agreement on a $1.4 trillion spending package by the December 11 deadline.

CMS Finalizes 2021 Physician Fee Schedule

This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the final 2021 updates for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program, finalizing the expansion of certain telehealth services in Medicare and evaluation and management (E/M) payment redistribution. Specifically, the final rule adds more than 60 services to the Medicare telehealth list to be covered beyond the public health emergency and strongly encourages the adoption of electronic prescribing of controlled substances. The bulk of the rule will be effective on January 1, 2021. Click here for the final rule and the physician fee schedule fact sheet.

Register Today: Regulatory, Financial and Workforce Impact of COVID-19 for Behavioral Health

Public health best practices during the pandemic have had a major impact on the behavioral health care system, reducing the opportunity for in-person services, and by extension, the revenue for many providers. In a time where mental health and addiction services are needed more than ever, federal- and state-level regulatory changes and financial support are re-shaping our country’s behavioral health system and workforce.

Want to Present at NatCon21? Apply Today!

Interested in educating 6,000+ colleagues on the NatCon21 stage from May 3-5, 2021? Calling all visionaries: share your bold, game-changing ideas during NatCon21, the largest behavioral health conference in the world! Help shape the NatCon21 learning program by submitting a presentation proposal before Friday, December 18, at 11:59 pm PT (2:59 am ET). Time is running out, so apply today! Questions? Contact us!


Advocacy Tip of the Week: Connecting with Your Legislators. When emailing your legislator, customization is key! Legislators get a lot of form emails and you can cut through the noise by adding your personal story or data that is relevant to their district. Keeping emails brief and customized is the best way to have your message read.


COVID-19 Relief Update. A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers released a $908 billion COVID-19 relief proposal this week. Stay tuned to Capitol Connector for more details as this story progresses.

Guest Author

Malka Berro
Policy Associate