August 2010 — Recess Edition
As Congress begins its summer recess, this is a crucial time to communicate with your legislators about taking action on important issues and legislation when they return to Washington. Take the time to contact the local offices of your Senators and Representatives—either by phone or by email or letter. Use the action alerts and information provided below.
President Signs Medicaid Funding Extensions Bill
On August 10th, the House passed the bill (HR 1586), which provides $16.1 billion to extend increased Medicaid aid to states and $10 billion in funding for states to create or retain education-related jobs, by a vote of 247-161 and was later signed into law by the President.
Due to your advocacy efforts, this relief will finally get to states after failing on 3 different occasions.
Take a moment to thank your Members of Congress for providing this much needed aid that will allow communities to continue behavioral health coverage.
Hill Day at Annual Conference: Advocates Speak Out
Advocates from around the country met with their legislators in Washington to urge action on critical issues and initiatives during Capitol Hill Day at Mental Health America’s Annual Conference in June. These include the Medicaid increase; supporting increases in funding levels for mental health services, supports and research; and seclusion and restraint legislation. Updates on each are below.
Funding Levels for Mental Health Services: A full report on action taken by congressional committees on funding levels for mental health services can be found on our blog here.
Seclusion and Restraint Legislation: During visits with Senators, advocates urged they support legislation to prevent and reduce the use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools. The Keeping All Students Safe Act would prevent and reduce the use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools and is the first national effort to address this problem and ensure the safety of all students and school staff. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 262 to 153 in March. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has introduced the companion bill (S. 2860) in the Senate, but it does not yet have any cosponsors. A fact sheet on the legislation can be found here. Use our action alert to contact your senators.
Health Information Technology: Advocates also urged support for legislation to extend health information technology assistance eligibility to behavioral health, mental health, and substance abuse professionals and facilities (H.R. 5040). A fact sheet on the bill and key messages can be found at the Capitol Hill Day page of the website. The work of advocates is paying off. Since the Conference, 34 House members have signed onto the bill. The full text of the legislation and current list of cosponsors can be found here. If your House member has not signed on, please contact them and urge they do so.
Article on Prevention and Health Reform
Dr. David Shern, Mental Health America’s president and CEO, and Kirsten Beronio have co-authored an article in the National Council Magazine, “Prevention is Better Than Cure,” that looks at how health care reform impacts prevention and mental health and addiction services. To view the table of contents and download the full magazine, visit http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/cs/about_us/national_council_magazine.
Recorded Webinar on Parity and Health Reform
We have posted on our website a policy webinar, “Parity and Health Reform: Important Changes for Behavioral Health.” You can listen to the webinar by going to: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/action/policy-issues-a-z/healthcare-reform.
About the Advocacy Network
Mental Health America’s Advocacy Network is a powerful voice for change that is made up of thousands of individuals nationwide who take an active role in protecting America’s mental health through legislative advocacy. Together, we speak out and make our voice heard on equal access to care, federal funding, treatment and prevention.