Advocacy E-News February 7, 2017
February 7, 2017
STATE DOUBLES RATE IT WILL PAY FOR MEDICATION MANAGEMENT
State officials have doubled the reimbursement rate New Jersey will pay to programs that provide medication monitoring the latest adjustment to an ongoing reform of how the government pays for behavioral health services for some of its poorest, most vulnerable patients. The news of a higher medication-monitoring rate was welcomed by nonprofit provider groups who have said larger Medicaid payments are essential if they are going to stay solvent and continue to deliver housing, day programs, and other services to those with mental health and addiction issues.
OBAMACARE REPEAL COULD LEAD TO A MENTAL-HEALTH CRISIS
A broad coalition of advocates ensured that the Affordable Care Act included the concept of “mental health parity”—meaning insurance providers must provide equality in services for mental- and physical-health care. The ACA required both private insurance and state-subsidized Medicaid plans to offer mental health and substance-abuse treatment as an essential benefit. But now the opponents threaten to just as stealthily unravel the modest gains in mental-health equity.
BILL TO TREAT, NOT JAIL, VETERANS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS CLEARS ASSEMBLY PANEL
An Assembly panel on Thurs. released legislation to send veterans suffering from mental illness, who have committed a non-violent crime, to a treatment program, instead of the criminal justice system where they are unlikely to receive treatment. The bill (A-4362) would require that the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) collaborate with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a statewide Veterans Diversion Program to divert eligible service members who have committed certain offenses away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate case management and mental health services.
CHRISTIE-BACKED INSURANCE MANDATE ADVANCES
The state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would mandate insurance coverage for up to six months of substance abuse treatment despite concerns raised by members of both parties that the legislation excludes the majority of New Jersey residents and will drive up premiums for those it’s designed to benefit. The measure would also limit to five days the initial supply of opioid drugs a doctor can prescribe to a patient.
HOUSE VOTES TO OVERTURN OBAMA GUN RULE
The House on Thursday struck down an Obama-era regulation that could block some recipients of disability benefits from buying guns. The House voted 235-180 to roll back a rule that required the Social Security Administration to report people who receive disability benefits and have a mental health condition to the FBI’s background check system. The database is used to determine eligibility for buying a firearm.