Surgeon General Advisory, Medicare Telehealth Data


U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory this week on Protecting Youth Mental Health. The Advisory describes a decade-long increase of mental health challenges for youth and highlights the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children, adolescents, and young adults. Further, the Surgeon General issued recommendations to improve the mental health of youth through a “whole-of-society effort,” including actions and tools to recognize mental health challenges, educate, empower and promote access to high-quality mental healthcare. 

Main Stories:  

  • HHS Study on Telehealth Utilization by Medicare Recipients  
  • New Toolkit Published on Prescribing and Promoting Buprenorphine  
  • Webinar on Health Inequities, Disparities, and Social Determinants of Health 
  • SAMSHA’s Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee Meets Next Week

HHS Study Released on Telehealth Utilization by Medicare Recipients 

The Department of Health and Human Services released a study last week outlining the use of telehealth among Medicare recipients in 2020. The study found an increasing willingness to seek out behavioral health services through telehealth. Notably, a third of visits to behavioral health specialists (including general psychiatrists, neuropsychiatrists, psychologists, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers) were conducted via telehealth. These providers saw the largest increase for telehealth utilization among all providers in 2020 by Medicare recipients.  

New Toolkit Published on Prescribing and Promoting Buprenorphine  

new toolkit has been published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration titled “Practical Tools for Prescribing and Promoting Buprenorphine in Primary Care Settings.” The toolkit explains how primary care providers can implement opioid use disorder treatment using buprenorphine, including a step-by-step guide to support the implementation of buprenorphine. It also identifies common barriers to opioid disorder treatment and strategies to help providers overcome barriers as they arise. 

Webinar on Health Inequities, Disparities and Social Determinants of Health 

Join us on Thursday, December 16, from 2-3 p.m. ET to hear a panel of health equity experts explore the connections between health inequity, health disparities and social determinants of health. Authors of Access for Everyone: A Toolkit for Addressing Health Equity and Racial Justice within Integrated Care Settings will introduce two new modules that address health inequity, health disparities and social determinants of health. Register below.

SAMSHA’s Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee Meeting 

The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will hold a virtual full Committee meeting on December 16, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. ET.  Open to the public, the Committee will hear public comments at this meeting as well as provide more information on federal efforts related to serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance. Register to attend here.  


Hill Day 2022. The House Majority Leader recently released the 2022 Calendar, and due to Members of Congress being scheduled to be in District during NatCon22, the Policy Institute/Hill Day 22 has been rescheduled to June. More information to come!  

Join the Ambassador Network. National Council is accepting applications to join its Ambassador Network. The Network is designed for individuals who are involved in advocacy with members of Congress and are willing to play a critical role in highlighting the local impact of federal policies. For more information and to apply, click here


FDA Commissioner Nominee Gets First Hearing with Senate Committee Next Week. The first hearing to consider the President’s nominee to run the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf, will be held on December 14, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  

Guest Author

Mollie Laird
Associate, Federal Policy
The National Council