“I want to thank Senator Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) for their leadership in introducing the bill, as well as Senators from both sides of the aisle for prioritizing increased access to mental health treatment for incarcerated individuals. This is especially important during a time when our nation’s most vulnerable people are at highest risk. If passed and signed into law, this legislation would immediately improve access to mental health and addiction treatment across the nation. We now call on the House to pass the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act.” – Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, on the Senate’s passage of the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act.
Senate Passes Bipartisan Criminal Justice, Mental Health Bill
The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act passed the Senate this week, marking a significant win for behavioral health advocates across the country. The bipartisan legislation is designed to promote partnership between our nation’s mental health treatment and justice systems. The legislation authorizes the creation of collaborative programs and training for justice agencies and community behavioral health centers that ensure access to needed care for justice-involved individuals and strengthen the local agency and provider capacity. As always, thank you for making your voices heard and supporting our advocacy around S.3312, including at this year’s Hill Day at Home. Now, our focus turns to the House as they consider this legislation. Check out the Advocacy Corner below for ways to get involved.
Appropriations Talks Continue with Weeks Left Until Deadline
Congressional appropriators are ramping up efforts to strike a bipartisan government funding deal with less than one month remaining until the December 11 deadline. Following the release of the Senate’s proposed bills for FY21 last week, subcommittee officials are working nonstop to clinch an omnibus spending bill that would avert a shutdown. If a deal is not reached by then, lawmakers will likely look to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would provide legislators with more time to reach an agreement — possibly moving the deadline into the new year. The National Council recently sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the passage of an FY21 omnibus appropriations package, stressing that providers need stability as the pandemic continues having an impact on the nation’s mental health and substance use.
Behavioral Health Organizations Send Letter to President-Elect Biden on MAT
This week, several behavioral health organizations, including the National Council, sent a letter to President-elect Biden urging that his Administration work with Congress to pass the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act (H.R. 2482/S. 2074) in his first 100 days in office. This bipartisan legislation would expand access to MAT for millions of Americans by removing the waiver requirement for health care providers to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder. The MAT Act was a key aspect of our Hill Day 2019 advocacy, and we look forward to seeing this legislation through to passage.
In Case You Missed It: the 2020 Election and Behavioral Health
On Wednesday, 1,100+ people from across the U.S., Canada, Aruba, Mexico, Ghana, and Panama united online to hear a panel of thought leaders discuss the future of health care during “Wellbeing Wednesdays,” the first episode in our new virtual town hall series bringing the best minds in mental health and addiction recovery to your desktop. Want to relive the experience or didn’t get a chance to attend? We got you covered. Watch our recording today!
Take Action: Urge House Judiciary Committee to Move Crisis Stabilization Forward. With the Senate having recently passed the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act, the legislation is now with the House Judiciary Committee for them to decide if the bill will move forward. If your representative serves on the House Judiciary Committee, will you take two minutes to urge your Representative to move H.R.5909, the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act of 2020, to the House floor for a full vote?
Advocacy Tip of the Week: Share Good News with Congressional Staff. Did you receive a new grant? Open a new location? Start a new program? Touch base with your legislator’s health staffers and give them a brief update. This helps keep your relationship positive and keeps you on their radar.
HAPPENING ON THE HILL
Opioid Legislation Moves Forward in the House. The House this week passed two key pieces of opioid legislation: the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act of 2020 (H.R. 2466) and the Easy Medication Access and Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Addiction Act (H.R. 2281). The State Opioid Response Grant Reauthorization Act would authorize $1.5 billion to the program annually for FY 20-26, and the Easy MAT for Opioid Addiction Act would require the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to allow practitioners to dispense up to a three-day supply of MAT for the purposes of relieving acute withdrawal symptoms while an individual is waiting for treatment.