Advocacy Alert: March 2022 Legislative News Round Up
April 7, 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.
SC | South Carolina Lawmakers Consider Splitting State’s Health Department
S.2 would dissolve DHEC and create two new cabinet-level agencies: the Department of Behavioral and Public Health and the Department of Environmental Services.
Supreme Court Debates Exactly when a Doctor’s Misprescribing Becomes Criminal
Supreme Court justices seemed divided over where to draw the line for what threshold physicians have to cross for their prescribing patterns to be considered drug dealing — and whether doctors have to know they are misprescribing medication for it to be criminal.
DE | Three Mental Health Bills Filed in General Assembly
Lawmakers have filed a package of bills in the General Assembly aimed at addressing Delawareans’ mental health issues.
BHAP Welcomes Biden’s Commitment to Expanding Behavioral Health Services
In his first State of the Union address, President Biden spoke on one of the greatest threats to our collective public health: substance use disorders (SUD) and mental health.
Biden’s Plans to Curb Mental Health Crisis Include Virtual Care
In his first State of the Union address, the president laid out his administration’s plans to tackle the mental health epidemic, including expanding access to telebehavioral healthcare.
CA | Governor Newsom Unveils Plan to Care for Californians Struggling with Behavioral Health Challenges
Governor Newsom unveils a new framework to provide community-based care and support for Californians struggling with severe mental health and substance use disorders, many of whom are experiencing homelessness.
OR | House Votes To Support Behavioral Health Workers
A release from Oregon House Democrats said House Bill 4004 B will provide over $130 million in grants to behavioral health providers to use for wage increases, retention bonuses, and improvements to working conditions.
Updated CDC Prescription Opioid Guidelines Appear More Flexible And Patient-Centric, But Fall Short
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an updated set of prescription opioid guidelines that accounts to some degree for the changing landscape of the opioid crisis.
CO | State Leaders Celebrate Health Care Bill
The bill creates the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) to ensure Coloradans can access behavioral health care regardless of where they live in the state or their ability to pay.
Doctors Push to Keep Looser Rules for Telemedicine for Opioid Addiction
It got a lot easier for patients with opioid addiction to get their medication remotely during the pandemic — and now addiction doctors and telehealth companies are pushing Congress to make those flexibilities permanent.
FL | Florida Health Leaders Spur Discussions on Behavioral Health Reform, Value-Based Care
Four insightful health care leaders offered an on-the-ground look at Florida’s health care system at the 2022 Federal State of Reform Health Policy Conference.
CT | Commitment to Behavioral Health in Connecticut Governor’s Spending Plan
A number of programs within Connecticut’s health-related agencies could be the benefactors of added cash infusions in the second year of Gov. Ned Lamont’s 2022-23 biennium budget.
HHS Announces Mental Health Support Funding for Children and Young Adults
On March 9, HHS, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of Minority Health, announced nearly $35 million in funding opportunities for children and young adults.
ME | Maine Hospitals, Mental Health Advocates Want More Funding to Address Gaps
With a renewed focus on how vital mental health care is, some advocates are calling for more funding to address gaps in the system.
The Movement to Expand Methadone Access to Treat Opioid Addiction
The rules for using the synthetic narcotic are five decades old. There’s a movement to change them, but for-profit clinics may stand in the way.
NC | North Carolina on Track to Roll Out 9-8-8 Mental Health Crisis Hotline
The hotline offers people experiencing mental distress a different option that is not routed through law enforcement.
MN | Health Policy Panel Proposes More Money for Behavioral Health Homes
The problem behavioral health home providers in Minnesota say they are facing is that reimbursements for services provided are inconsistent and too low.
VA | Virginia County Sues State Behavioral Health System for Failing to Admit Psychiatric Patient
Bed of last resort law’ requires state-run facilities to admit patients if other treatment isn’t available.
‘This Is Crack 2.0’
The extension of a Trump-era order cracking down on fentanyl copycats is reigniting what advocates call another war on drugs.
AK | Proposed Law will Expand Mental Health Education for Alaska’s K-12
A bill requiring mental health education for students, introduced a year ago in the Alaska Senate, has made its way to the Senate Finance Committee, the last stop before it gets into the Rules Committee for calendaring for the Senate floor, where it will be debated and voted on.
GA | Bill Adds Mental Health Aid to 911 Calls
In the nearly 10 years that Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan has spent in the General Assembly, the drumbeat to address the state’s mental health care has been building.
MA | Gov. Charlie Baker Files New Health Care Legislation
Gov. Charlie Baker, during a press conference at the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, announced new legislation to bolster access to behavioral and mental health, alongside primary health care services.
TX | Texans Experience Surge of Fentanyl-Related Deaths
As more Texans die from fentanyl overdoses, advocates and experts urge harm reduction policies.
ND | Funding to Address Deadly Opioid Epidemic Only Half the Battle According to Addiction Professionals
In 2021, Bismarck police responded to 134 overdoses. That’s an increase of 81% from 2020.
MD | Gov Hogan Announces Behavioral Health and Public Safety Center Advisory Group
This group was recommended by the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland, chaired by Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford.
NM | Behavioral Health Copays Waived for Only Fraction of New Mexicans
Only about 16% of New Mexicans are on a health plan the law applies to.
WA | How Washington Lawmakers Did — and Didn’t — Boost Mental Health Care This Year
New laws around mental health issues were often placed on the back burner during this year’s legislative session, as hot topics like policing and affordable housing demanded legislators’ attention.
Biden Signs Bill to Address Burnout Among Health Care Professionals
The new law will establish grants that seek to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care professionals.
HI | HHHRC Advocates for a Public Health Model Approach to Drug Use
Nikos Leverenz, president and Board of Directors at Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii and grants and advancement manager for the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center (HHHRC), authored a recent statement on clarifying misconceptions about harm reduction and how it relates to public health.
$44 Million Announced for Health and Substance Use Services for Populations at Risk for or Living with HIV/AIDS
Totaling $43.7 million dollars, the funding opportunities reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to providing accessible, evidence-based, culturally appropriate substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services to all as part of HHS’s new Overdose Prevention Strategy. Funding will be awarded in the fall.
MT | Commission Approves Strategic Plan to Improve Missoula Co. Mental Health Resources
Backers say the Charting a Path Forward resolution means resources can be allocated to specific programs to prevent mental health crises.
NV | Overdoses Among Hispanics Spiked in 2020; Advocates Point to Lack of Services, Stigma
Overdose deaths among Hispanic residents in Nevada increased by 120 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to data released in October by the state Department of Health and Human Services.
DE | Proposed Bill Could Provide More Mental Health Resources in Delaware Middle Schools
Some of the First State’s legislators are hoping to get more mental health resources to public school students.
ID | Advocates Look to Access to Coverage, Care for Idaho Kids
On top of the group’s concerns about routine medical care, Idaho Kids Covered highlighted the growing presence of Idaho children struggling with mental and behavioral health issues.
HI | DOH Prepares for New Hawaii CARES Contract and 988 Implementation
The Behavioral Health Services Administration (BHA) under the Department of Health is working to update and improve its one-stop shop behavioral health crisis response system, Hawaii CARES.
LA | With Sports Betting Now Legal, State Health Officials are Working to Combat Problem Gambling
The Louisiana Department of Health has doubled-down on their efforts to raise awareness of problem gambling, in the wake of sports wagering and mobile sports betting becoming more widely available in the state.
CO | Colorado’s New Mental Health Commissioner to Focus on “Front-Door” Access to Care, Children and the Fentanyl Crisis
Dr. Morgan Medlock was most recently in charge of crisis services for the Department of Behavioral Health in Washington, D.C.
OH | Terry Russell Reflects on 50 Years of Service to Mental Health in Ohio
It was the “divine intervention” that came with his brother’s illness, Russell said, that inspired him to pursue a 50-year career advocating for mental health care in Ohio.
MO | Lawmakers Weigh Bills to Offer Suicide Prevention Training as Mental Health Issues Rise
The bills aim to bolster training for pharmacists and teachers and also connect students with resources.
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