Advocacy Alert: March 2021 Legislative News Round Up

April 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.


NE | New Program to Improve Inpatient Mental Healthcare in and Around Omaha
Shared 3/1/2021
The Division of Behavioral Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is participating in a pilot program called OpenBeds.

Biden Can Make Opioid Telemedicine Permanent Without Congress, Report Says
Shared 3/2/2021
A key treatment for opioid addiction will become harder to prescribe once temporarily rules for telehealth expire, but a new report says that the Biden administration can make the change permanent without Congress.

OK | Oklahoma Introduces Suicide Prevention Effort “Are You OK?”
Shared 3/2/2021
The workplace can make a significant difference in suicide prevention, according to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse (ODMHSAS).

GA | Georgia Lawmakers to Consider Telehealth Expansion in Schools
Shared 3/4/2021
A new bill would prompt the state to create a model for telehealth services in schools to help students dealing with behavioral and mental health concerns.

FL | Florida Bill would Require Physicians to Discuss Opioid Alternatives
Shared 3/5/2021
The bill would require physicians to discuss multiple types of painkiller alternatives to opioids before prescribing an opioid drug to their patient.

CT | State Receives Grant to Develop Plan to use 9-8-8 as Suicide Hotline
Shared 3/6/2021
In July 2022, 9-8-8 will become the new national three-digit number for the Lifeline, providing mental health crisis and suicide response.

Cavs’ Love Honored for Mental Health Advocacy, Charity Work
Shared 3/8/2021
The Cavaliers forward and five-time All-Star received the first Humanitarian of the Year Award on Thursday night at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards, an annual event that brings out the city’s top sports names but was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proposed Bill Aims to Trade Handcuffs for Help when it Comes to Drug Use
Shared 3/8/2021
Washington lawmakers have proposed a bill that aims to reform the way we treat substance abuse disorder, and the recent Supreme Court ruling decriminalizing simple drug possession in the state may provide an opportunity to transition from punishing drug users to actually helping them.

Native American Groups Expect Xavier Becerra to Take on Opioid Crisis as Head of HHS
Shared 3/9/2021
With Indian Country being hit hard by the opioid crisis, Native American organizations are counting on California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to confront the issue head-on.

AL | Gambling Addiction Group has Concerns over Alabama Gambling, Lottery Bill
Shared 3/9/2021
Representatives with the Alabama Counsel on Compulsive Gambling recently presented a report to Gov. Kay Ivey’s commission on gaming, detailing some of the effects these services may leave.

RI | Funding for Behavioral Health Heading to Rhode Island as part of American Rescue Plan
Shared 3/10/2021
Organizations such as Newport Mental Health will be able to apply for another round of funding through this authorization.

ID | Bill to Revamp Indigent Care, Public Health Introduced
Shared 3/11/2021
The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, saves Idaho counties an estimated $12 million per year by limiting eligibility for the indigent care system.

Mental Health Programs to Receive Federal Stimulus Funds
Shared 3/12/2021
The Biden administration announced on Thursday how it intends to spend $2.5 billion on mental health and drug addiction services through the American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed into law on Thursday.

NM | Will New Mexico Legalize Recreational Marijuana?
Shared 3/12/2021
State Senate lawmakers are searching for a bill to advance toward a floor vote and there are four competing proposals to legalize recreational cannabis sales to adults 21 and older.

CO | Colorado Could Soon Have a Behavioral Health Administration
Shared 3/13/2021
Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force — created by Gov. Jared Polis in 2019 — is recommending that the Legislature create a centralized state Behavioral Health Administration (BHA).

NV | Moxy Up will Help Coordinate Grant in Douglas County
Shared 3/13/2021
A portion of a $3.97 million grant designed to expand behavioral health services in rural Nevada will be coordinated with Minden mentoring center, Moxy Up.

SC | Bill seeks to Have South Carolina Doctors Prescribe Overdose Drug when they Give Patients Opioids
Shared 3/16/2021
If passed, Senate Bill 571 would mandate the state’s prescribers offer to send patients home with a prescription for Narcan, or a generic equivalent, if the patient meets certain criteria, such as a history of substance abuse.

SD | Department of Social Services Receives Grant for 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Shared 3/16/2021
A grant has been awarded to the South Dakota Department of Social Services for planning in the launch of the 988 National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

VT | Advocates Call on Vermont lawmakers to Address Suicide Prevention
Shared 3/18/2021
In the first 11 months of 2020, 105 Vermonters died by suicide.

OR | Addiction Recovery Groups Work for Compromise with Oregon Alcohol Industry on Tax Increase
Shared 3/24/2021
Addiction recovery advocates are pushing for a compromise with Oregon’s alcohol industry on what would have been a landmark tax on beer and wine in the state.

US Senate Confirms Vivek Murthy as Surgeon-General; COVID-19, Opioid Crisis Among Top Priorities
Shared 3/25/2021
Murthy has drawn opposition from gun rights advocates because of his longstanding assessment that mass shootings amount to a public health problem.

MD | House Health and Government Operations Committee Moves Several Health Bills
Shared 3/26/2021
The Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee moved several bills out of committee Tuesday that, if become law, will have significant impacts on the state’s health policy.

Map of Marijuana Legality by State
Shared 3/28/2021
Marijuana laws are changing at a rapid pace across all 50 states, making things a bit confusing at times. In order to keep up with the ever-changing laws, DISA has provided this interactive map for information on legalization, medical use, recreational use, and anything in between.

UT | Utah Lawmakers are Pouring Millions into Mental Health
Shared 3/29/2021
In an effort to lower the state’s persistently high suicide rate, Utah lawmakers passed a slate of bills that increase access to mental health services, limit firearm access for people in crisis and boost prevention programs.

New Bills Target Telehealth Coverage for Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services
Shared 3/30/2021
Lawmakers last week submitted bills on Capitol Hill that would expand telehealth access through the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) and mandate payment parity for telehealth services covered by private payers.

IL | Senate OKs Fix to Illinois Behavioral Health Workforce Crisis
Shared 3/30/2021
The Senate Behavioral and Mental Health Committee voted 8-3 last week to create the Behavioral Health Workforce Education Center.

SAMHSA Boosts State Aid in Mental Health, Substance Abuse
Shared 3/31/2021
Additional funding is providing $2.5 billion to the agency in supplemental block grant funding for states for pandemic-related stressors.

Portman Introduces Bill to Increase Funding for Opioid Addiction and Recovery
Shared 3/31/2021
The act put in place additional policy reforms to help combat the opioid epidemic that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

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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