Advocacy Alert: December 2021 Legislative News Round Up
January 6, 2022
Many of these are news stories regarding legislation, so once a month we send out a ‘news roundup’ of related news stories we’ve posted. Unless otherwise stated, BHAP has no official stance on any of these stories: the intention is to share so that we’re all better informed as to what’s happening in the legislative world.
A reminder that BHAP members get access to a monthly call with our advocate in Washington, DC, to find out what is going on and ask any questions you may have. Feel free to contact us for more information on that.
FL | Florida Lawmaker Files Bill To Decriminalize All Currently Illicit Drugs
A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill last week to decriminalize all currently illicit drugs, provide avenues for relief for those with existing drug-related convictions and promote harm reduction services.
DE | Governor Carney, Lt. Governor Hall-Long Announce Community-Based Mental Health Services Fund
The program is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The federal legislation was supported in Congress by Delaware’s congressional delegation – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester – and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.
WY | Service Providers Expect Grim Future for Wyoming Mental Health System Without Drastic Action
Several mental health care providers expressed concerns about the viability of Wyoming’s mental health care during the afternoon session of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Forum Nov. 23.
Medicaid Funding for Soon-to-Be-Freed Prisoners Eyed in States
Vermont and several other states are asking federal regulators to approve the use of Medicaid funds for health-care services to prisoners shortly before their release, setting up a debate over how much flexibility the states should have in running their Medicaid programs.
Dem Lawmaker Discusses Bill To Help Alleviate Opioid Crisis
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) speaks on the House floor on Tuesday about HR 2355, about prescription medications.
SC | Break up DHEC or Leave it Be? South Carolina Task Force Studying Agency’s Future Releases Suggestions
A group tasked with examining the provision of health and environmental services in South Carolina has been unable to reach consensus on perhaps the most pressing question it was called to answer.
Opioid Treatment Access Would be Expanded under House Democratic Bill
Users in treatment would be able to continue to get methadone prescriptions from pharmacies to take at home.
NV | Sisolak Pledges Help for Reno Mental Health Workers Ahead of West Hills Hospital Closure
Gov. Steve Sisolak says he will look to federal COVID-19 relief funds to help Reno-area mental health providers already struggling with the upcoming closure of the region’s lone acute care facility for children.
ND | More Substance Abuse Treatment Centers Coming to North Dakota
North Dakotans living in rural areas who struggle with substance abuse will soon have treatment options closer to home with the help of additional funding passed by the legislature.
Stabenow Calls for Expansion of School Mental Health Services
Following last week’s deadly Michigan school shooting, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said that mental and behavioral health services in schools need to be expanded.
NJ | New Jersey Lawmaker’s Bill Would Expand Opioid Users’ Access To Methadone
Rep. Donald Norcross’ bill would allow pharmacies to distribute methadone and increase the volume a patient can take home at a time.
Senator Jon Ossoff’s Bi-Partisan Bill Tackling Opioid Crisis Passes U.S. Senate
The “Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act”, which Sen. Ossoff introduced with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in September, will help ensure that rural communities with a high level of opioid overdoses have the resources they need to respond to the crisis.
HHS Debuts $30M Grant Program Meant to Curb Opioid Epidemic
In 2020, overdose deaths increased more than 30%, leading to more than 93,000 deaths, driven by fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Legislators Call for Full Study on Mental Health Services in Criminal Proceedings
What started as a pointed discussion on providing acquitted individuals with access to mental health services evolved into a potential study under the bi-cameral Virginia Behavioral Health Commission.
US Sanctions Chinese Drugmakers Amid Addiction Epidemic
Biden administration targets four chemical companies and man said to be world’s leading producer of anabolic steroids.
As Drug Overdose Deaths Soar, Addiction Experts Say Lawmakers Should Spend Money on Established Programs Offering Evidence-Based Treatment
Medication assisted treatment is well documented to reduce opioid overdose deaths and help people with opioid use disorder live normal lives. But many groups receiving state money rely on older abstinence-based approaches to addiction recovery.
WA | County Council OKs Sales Tax for Behavioral Health
The controversial 0.1% tax, opposed by many elected officials around Snohomish County, was passed along party lines.
ME | Calls Grow to Fix Maine’s Mental Health Care System
Demand for youth mental health services in Maine is surging, while trained professionals are dwindling.
PA | Amy C. Brodkey, Groundbreaking Psychiatrist and Women’s Mental Health Advocate, Dies at 72
She and others occupied a Harvard building in 1971 to protest the need for a women’s center. Today, the Cambridge Women’s Center is the oldest continuously operating women’s center in the country.
$4.5 Billion Purdue Pharmaceutical Bankruptcy Settlement Overturned
On Thursday, a federal judge overturned a nearly $4.5 billion bankruptcy settlement that granted immunity to the Sackler family from civil lawsuits linked to their company Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of OxyContin.
AR | Arkansas Charges Former Nursing Home Chain Owner with Medicaid and Tax Fraud
Arkansas is also working with other state attorneys general considering civil action against Joseph Schwartz, says a person familiar with the discussions.
Mental Health Support to Get Expansion Under New Medicaid Option
States can integrate behavioral health services into their Medicaid programs under a new option meant to help people experiencing mental health or substance use crises.
DOJ Awards $34 Million to Crisis Management Initiatives
Amid a slew of safety grants totaling over $1 billion announced within the past week, the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) has awarded funds totaling $34 million to help communities address crises involving homelessness, mental health, substance use disorders and other public health and public safety emergencies.
GA | Bill Aims to Strengthen Mental Health Care in Georgia
Georgia ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to helping people struggling with mental illness. A forthcoming bill in the state House aims to change that.
FL | Florida Legislators Line up Maternal Health, Provider Reimbursement Bills
Florida policymakers have added a number of health bills on their agenda with two weeks left to go before the 2022 Legislative Session.
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