The last few months have seen significant movement across a broad array of issues:
APA Led Activities:
APA Offers Solutions to Expand Access to Mental Health Care in Underserved Communities
APA responded to the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee request for information on bipartisan policy options to improve rural and underserved community health care delivery and health outcomes. APA suggested that the Committee support policies that:
- Expand access to the collaborative care model,
- Increase utilization of telepsychiatry, and
- Improve cultural and population-specific data collection to expand medical health research.
Mental Health and Criminal Justice Groups Offer Mental Health Policy Recommendations
APA is a major partner in a coalition that advocates for improvements to how the criminal justice system addresses behavioral health. Recently, the coalition released a comprehensive list of policy recommendations, which was highly informed by the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC), on which many APA members served. Read the coalition’s recommendations here, as well as APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin’s blog entry about them.
Executive Branch Activities:
APA Comments on ONDCP’s Drug Court Efforts
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) requested public comments regarding adult drug courts’ efforts to serve patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). In its comments, APA commended ONDCP’s expansion of evidence-based treatments for vulnerable patients in the criminal justice system, but also urged the agency to ensure that drug courts provide high-quality, culturally-, and gender-relevant evaluation, treatment, and monitoring to all individuals seen through the drug court system.
Furthermore, APA’s comments urged ONDCP to consider the stigma and misinformation that has been attached to medication treatment for substance use disorders and, furthermore, ensure that individuals in drug courts have access to all evidence-based medications for OUD and that decision making be appropriately provided by trained medical professionals.
APA Applauds Mental Health Funding in Federal Spending Bill
President Donald Trump signed the congressionally passed $1.4 trillion fiscal year 2020 spending bill on December 20th, 2020. APA successfully advocated for several of the provisions within the package, including:
- Combatting the Opioid Epidemic: In addition to funding state opioid response grants and research, the bill also includes $12 million in new funding for a student-loan repayment program for the SUD workforce and $26.7 million in new funding to establish grants to train professionals to provide treatment for mental illness and SUD.
- Firearms Injury Prevention: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both received $12.5 million to take a comprehensive approach to studying the underlying causes and evidence-based methods of prevention of firearm injury.
- $5.9 Billion for SAMHSA: This includes a $1 million increase in funding for the Minority Fellowship Program as well as funds for many other important mental health programs.
- Increased Funding for Medical Research: NIH was provided a 6.7 percent increase in funding and the National Institute of Mental Health's budget was increased by $155 million.
During APA's Federal Advocacy Conference, attendees lobbied Congress for the $12 million in new funding for the student-loan repayment program. Read APA’s statement when Congress passed the legislation here.
APA and Mental Health Advocates Support Bipartisan Suicide-Prevention Legislation
APA and other members of the Mental Health Liaison Group expressed support for the Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act, S. 2492. This bipartisan legislation seeks to prevent youth suicide by encouraging state and local educational authorities to implement suicide awareness and prevention training policies for children and adolescents. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the STANDUP Act in the U.S. Senate.
APA Continues to Assist District Branches and State Associations with Next Year’s Legislative Agenda
While APA continues to work with DB/SAs whose legislatures are still in session, it is also learning about DB/SAs’ legislative goals and concerns for next year. 2020 will be a very busy legislative session with states tackling a number of important legislative issues next year, including:
- Scope of practice,
- Collaborative Care model reimbursement
- Prior authorization, and
- Medical marijuana.
Please contact APA’s State Government Relations team at [email protected] if you would like to discuss advocacy training, legislative strategy, or any other state legislative matters.
Rep. Dean Phillips Attends Minnesota Psychiatric Society 2019 Fall Program
The Minnesota Psychiatric Society’s fall conference focused on addressing the barriers to mental health care that are resulting in overutilization of emergency rooms. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) addressed the well-attended meeting and provided a federal perspective on policies that can increase access for patients. The program concluded with plans to continue the conversation with coordinated, tangible next steps teaming psychiatry with emergency physicians and other stakeholders to find ways to improve access to psychiatric referrals and reduce emergency room boarding issues.