This week, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a new advisory on Addressing The Health Care Workforce Burnout. The advisory highlights the urgent need to address the burnout crisis impacting health care workers across the country. Notably, the Biden Administration emphasizes the mental health and wellbeing of health workers as a priority and promotes it as a core objective of the President’s National Mental Health Strategy. Some of the recommendations in the advisory include eliminating punitive policies for workers seeking mental health and substance use disorder care, investing in public health and the public health workforce, and reducing administrative burdens to help health workers have productive time with patients, communities, and colleagues. Read the advisory here.
Energy and Commerce Advances Mental Health, SUD Package
The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a full committee markup of six bills last week — including a bipartisan mental health package. The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 (H.R. 7666) addresses the impending implementation of the 988 hotline and other crisis-related supports, as well as efforts to aide in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, prevention, and recovery. Other key aspects of the package include expanding access to mental health care by improving workforce initiatives, filling in parity protection gaps in non-federal governmental health plans, addressing mental health concerns in children, and investing in numerous mental health and substance use grant programs. This package (analysis) passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, thereby advancing the legislation to the full House.
SAMHSA Open State Opioid Response Grant Opportunity
Last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the availability of $1.5 billion in new funding for State Opioid Response (SOR) grants. The funding opportunity is aimed at aiding states and territories to tackle SUD and overdose rates via prevention and treatment efforts — a key objective of the Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy unveiled last month (analysis). Under the SOR grant program, states and territories are provided with funding to bolster access to Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications to treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and to support prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services for both OUD and SUD. The program will include a set-aside for states or territories with the highest mortality rates for OUD.
HHS Leaders Urge States to Maximize Efforts to Support Children’s Mental Health
This week, federal agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a joint letter urging states, indigenous tribes, and jurisdictions to maximize efforts to support and strengthen children’s mental health and wellbeing. The agencies recommend coordinating and leveraging the use of Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant, the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) services, prevention programs and mental health resources from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Administration for Community Living’s (ACL) programs. Agency recommendations include developing a statewide children’s mental health task force, conducting statewide training and technical assistance for providers, and increasing access to specialized mental health services.
Additional Resources Available for PHE Unwinding
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently outlined key requirements in a new presentation and webinar series to help states remain compliant when unwinding flexibilities afforded under the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). They detailed a number of policies and procedures that states must abide by when reinstating Medicaid eligibility redeterminations post-PHE, including warnings of federal enforcement mechanisms in the event that a beneficiary’s coverage was inappropriately revoked. In a new webinar series, CMS will discuss the restart of the coverage redetermination process after the PHE comes to an end (the ending of which has not yet been announced).
CMS recently added new resources to the Medicaid.gov website intended to help beneficiaries prepare for the Medicaid and CHIP coverage renewal process, which will take place once the PHE ends. To prepare for the renewal process, Medicaid suggests that beneficiaries: (1) update their contact information; (2) check their mail; and (3) complete a renewal form if they were provided with one. For more information on the COVID-19 PHE flexibilities, read an analysis here.
Register for Hill Day Today! Join the National Council for our free virtual learning event on Wednesday, June 8, to hear key leaders discuss the latest mental health and substance use policy developments from Capitol Hill and the White House. Discover new strategies for maximizing your advocacy, hear from Congressional staff and leaders in federal agencies, contact your elected officials to support critical policy initiatives, celebrate peers receiving our Advocacy Leadership Awards, and more! Don’t forget to register for Hill Day at Home! Questions? Contact us.
HAPPENING ON THE HILL
Senate Committee Unveils UFA Reauthorization Legislative Package. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) unveiled the initial draft of legislation (section-by-section) to reauthorize the FDA user fee agreements (UFA). Notably, the legislation contains provisions to address the safe disposal of opioids. Under this proposal, the FDA would have authority to require opioids be dispensed to patients with in-home disposal systems, which patients would be eligible to receive.
By Mollie Laird, Policy Associate