Advocacy Alert: February 2021 Legislative News Round Up

March 1, 2021

For those of you who follow us on social media know, we post news stories on a daily basis that are connected to the behavioral health and addiction treatment industry.

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.


OR | Oregon Now Spearheading Drug Decriminalization: Here’s What you Need to Know
Shared 2/3/2021
Ballot Measure 110 went into effect Feb. 1, and all eyes are turned to Oregon as it embarks on being the first state in the nation to decriminalize the personal possession of hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and oxycodone.

SC | South Carolina Health Agency Close to Getting a New Chief
Shared 2/3/2021
After eight months without a permanent leader, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control might have a new head by the end of the week.

WA | New Bill Could be Game Changer for Washington Behavioral Health, Suicide Prevention
Shared 2/4/2021
The idea is to create call centers that will serve as central hubs where information can be shared to ensure all are on the same page in a coordinated care effort.

Addiction In The Pandemic: An Interview With White House Leader On Drug Control Policy
Shared 2/9/2021
In a series of stories about the addiction crisis during the pandemic, the Ohio Valley ReSource spoke to Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Regina LaBelle.

MT | Can Montana Get a Grip on Addiction?
Shared 2/10/2021
Gov. Gianforte says substance abuse is a crisis with ‘devastating consequences.’ His HEART Fund aims to improve perennial shortcomings in care. Public health experts see plenty of promise — and pitfalls.

FL | Supreme Court Grand Jury praises David Silvers’ Mental Health Bill
Shared 2/11/2021
The report says the bill takes proactive steps to address mental health.

House Passes Rep. Harris Bill to Help Behavioral Health Care Workers
Shared 2/12/2021
On Friday, Jan. 29 the Washington State House of Representatives approved a bill that would help behavioral healthcare workers renew their credentials during a state of emergency, according to a news release.

NH | New Hampshire Lawmakers Push to Roll Back Telehealth Coverage
Shared 2/12/2021
The bill would exclude audio-only services from the definition of telemedicine and target payment parity for virtual services.

NM | De-Escalating the 40-year-old War on Drugs
Shared 2/12/2021
Between people cycling in and out of the court system, and the judicial resources needed to prosecute these crimes, 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies knew she needed to do something differently.

NV | DHHS Awards Nevada $15M Grant for Mental Health Services
Shared 2/13/2021
The grant for $15,729,142 was awarded to four Nevada Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.

MS | Mississippi to Receive $5M from Multi-State Settlement to Fight Opioid Crisis
Shared 2/15/2021
Mississippi Attorney General Fitch is one of 47 attorneys general to help reach the agreement that directs over $5 million dollars to Mississippi, the state says.

NC | U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray to Step Down at End of Month
Shared 2/17/2021
Upon Murray’s departure, First Assistant United States Attorney William (Bill) Stetzer will serve as Acting U.S. Attorney.

VT | On ‘Recovery Day’, Advocates Say Vermont Needs New Approach to Opioid Crisis
Shared 2/18/2021
On Wednesday, state leaders gathered virtually to bring awareness to the ongoing opioid crisis, as well as legislation aimed at tearing down barriers to recovery.

CA | New California Law Makes It Easier to Get Care for Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Shared 2/19/2021
A California law that took effect Jan. 1, SB-855, requires health plans to use nationally recognized clinical standards established by nonprofit associations of clinical specialists to determine which mental health and addiction treatments they’ll cover — and for how long.

Biden’s Drug Policy Plan, Team Take Shape
Shared 2/20/2021
As it staffs up with respected SUD professionals, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy places special emphasis on harm reduction and racial equity in addiction treatment.

PA | Pennsylvania Attorney General Stops ‘Deceptive Marketing’ by Drug Treatment Center
Shared 2/20/2021
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that his office has entered into a settlement with a Tennessee-based addiction treatment provider for deceiving thousands of Pennsylvanians.

NJ | AG Grewal Announces Four Regulatory Actions Addressing New Jersey’s Opioid Addiction Epidemic
Shared 2/21/2021
As part of the state’s ongoing efforts to bring an end to New Jersey’s opioid epidemic and save lives, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced four actions aimed at preventing fatal overdoses and further increasing the public availability of the opioid antidote naloxone.

CO | Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill Mandating Colorado Insurers Cover Annual Mental Health Exams
Shared 2/22/2021
The argument she laid out to Colorado Politics was that the Affordable Care Act called for parity between physical and mental health services.

More States Require Telehealth Coverage Going into 2021
Shared 2/23/2021
Several states passed recent laws that would require commercial insurance plans to cover more telehealth services on a permanent basis. More states now require health plans to pay the same amount for telehealth as in-person visits.

Mental Health Experts say Funding Needed to Address Needs
Shared 2/24/2021
U.S. has seen increases in overdose deaths, suicides and mental health issues.

Providers Push to Deregulate Buprenorphine Amid Epidemic
Shared 2/25/2021
Some experts in the medical field are asking the government to deregulate buprenorphine, an addiction treatment drug, arguing that requiring providers to take an eight-hour X-waiver training course before administering the drug and submitting to subsequent audits by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has limited its availability in the medical community amid the opioid epidemic.

UT | Mental Health Day for Students Bill Passes Utah Senate Committee
Shared 2/25/2021
House Bill 81, proposed by Rep. Mike Winder, seeks to add “mental or behavioral” health to the list of valid excused absences for students.

IL | Senator Introduces Bill to Expand Medicaid Coverage for Those with Autism, Developmental Disabilities
Shared 2/26/2021
State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) has introduced a bill to expand Medicaid coverage for people with autism and developmental disabilities.

The FDA Waited 9 Months to Warn the Public on Tianeptine, a Supplement ‘Worse Than Heroin’
Shared 2/27/2021
While the agency investigated, people were harmed, even died after taking the opioidlike substance.

Questions? Concerns?

As always, we want your input.

A reminder that BHAP members get regular access to our advocate in Washington, DC. If you have any questions about BHAP’s advocacy efforts, please contact us.

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