Around the Agencies
- SAMHSA announces several leadership changes, including Tom Hill as the new Acting Director of CSAT
- SAMHSA releases new pocket guide on medications for alcohol use disorders
- CMS sends letter to hepatitis C medication manufacturers seeking input on cost reductions for State Medicaid programs
In the News
- White House announces new actions promoting rehabilitation and reintegration of formerly-incarcerated individuals
- White House seeks nominations for Champions of Change program highlighting substance use disorder advocates
- Mental Health Liaison Group writes letter advocating for sequestration relief for Labor-HHS appropriations bill
News from the States
- President Obama visits New Jersey rehabilitation facility, speaks on importance of criminal justice reform
- Hawaii announces Edward Mersereau as the new Division Chief of Hawaii’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division
News from NASADAD
- NASADAD attends briefing on high-need, high-cost behavioral health patients
- NASADAD attends briefing on patient review and restriction programs
Around the Agencies
SAMHSA announces several leadership changes, including Tom Hill as the new Acting Director of CSAT
Last week the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced several leadership changes, including Tom Hill’s appointment as the new Acting Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). Mr. Hill previously worked within the recovery community as an advocate for individuals, families, and communities struggling with substance use disorders. Mr. Hill has worked with SAMHSA on many programs, and has been in long-term recovery for over twenty years. Daryl Kade, CSAT’s previous Director, has been appointed as Acting Director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ). Rear Admiral Peter Delany, CBHSQ’s previous Director, will move on to serve as Special Advisor to the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, effective November 16th.
SAMHSA releases new pocket guide on medications for alcohol use disorders
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a new pocket guide on medications for treating alcohol use disorders last week. The pocket guide provides a checklist for prescribing medications, a list of approved medications for treating alcohol use disorders, and guidance regarding standard drink sizes limits.
CMS sends letter to hepatitis C medication manufacturers seeking input on cost reductions for State Medicaid programs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to hepatitis C (HCV) medication manufacturers seeking input on cost reductions for State Medicaid programs this past week. The letter asks manufacturers to detail their arrangements with commercial health insurance plans for providing HCV medication. CMS requests that manufacturers describe whether similar arrangements are offered to State Medicaid programs, and any potential barriers to implementing programs expanding access to HCV medication in the future. CMS notes that manufacturers have an important role to play in ensuring the affordability of HCV medication for Medicaid patients.
In the News
White House announces new actions promoting rehabilitation and reintegration of formerly-incarcerated individuals
The White House announced several measures promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of formerly-incarcerated individuals last week. The efforts include a new grant program within the Department of Education awarding up to $8 million to 9 communities. The grant program will support rehabilitation and reintegration, clarify “one-strike” policies, promote efforts to “ban the box” on job applications inquiring about candidates’ criminal histories, and expand job training for individuals with criminal records. Other measures include an Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Department of Housing and Urban Development grant program aiding public housing residents under the age of 25 in expunging or sealing criminal records in accordance with State laws. President Obama also called on Congress to pass criminal justice reform legislation such as the pending bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.
White House seeks nominations for Champions of Change program highlighting substance use disorder advocates
The White House announced the beginning of the nomination process for its Champions of Change program highlighting substance use disorder advocates last week. The Champions of Change program aims to highlight friends, family, colleagues, and advocates of individuals with substance use disorders working to improve access to treatment and recovery. The selected Champions of Change will be honored during a Spring 2016 event. The Obama Administration requests that all nominations be submitted by midnight on Sunday, December 19th.
NASADAD signs on to Mental Health Liaison Group letter on sequestration relief for Labor-HHS appropriations bill
The Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG), a coalition of non-profit organizations working to represent mental and behavioral healthcare, submitted a letter to the Senate and House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee on Appropriations, regarding sequestration relief. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 lifted spending caps imposed on budgets as part of sequestration. Original FY 2016 budget allocations determined prior to the Bipartisan Budget Act’s passage cut Labor-HHS programs by nearly $4 billion. These proposed cuts include a $50 million cut to the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant and a $77 million cut to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). The MHLG requests that these funding decisions be reconsidered in order to adequately fund mental health and substance use disorder treatment priorities.
News from the States
President Obama visits New Jersey rehabilitation facility, speaks on importance of criminal justice reform
President Obama visited a residential drug rehabilitation facility in Newark, New Jersey last week to speak about the importance of criminal justice reform and reentry programs. The President toured Integrity House, a State-funded residential treatment center, and praised their work in aiding individuals with substance use disorders. President Obama stressed the importance of reentry programs in helping individuals with substance use disorders and criminal backgrounds find employment, and announced that the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would now wait until later in the hiring process to ask candidates about potential criminal histories.
Hawaii announces Edward Mersereau as the new Division Chief of Hawaii’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division
Hawaii announced Edward Mersereau as the new Division Chief of Hawaii’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division this past week. Mr. Mersereau is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Hawaii State Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC), and attained his Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Hawaii. Mr. Mersereau has worked as an adjunct instructor for the University of Hawaii School of Social Work for the past several years, in addition to over 25 years of behavioral health clinical experience. Mr. Mersereau is a committed advocate for integrated healthcare solutions, and looks forward to serving in his new position.
News from NASADAD
NASADAD attends briefing on high-need, high-cost behavioral health patients
Brian Denten, Public Policy Intern, attended the briefing hosted by the Alliance for Health Reform on Friday, October 30th. The briefing included several panelists working within the mental health community on ways to address patients with high needs and costs. Speakers noted that the sickest 10 percent of Americans accounted for 65 percent of healthcare expenditures in 2011, and that savings can be achieved by more efficiently integrating primary and mental healthcare. High-cost and high-need patients are diagnosed with mental health disorders at higher rates than the average patient, making primary and behavioral healthcare integration essential in managing costs. Panelists stressed that behavioral health is a critical component of comprehensive primary care, and that stigma surrounding mental health disorders may decrease with full primary care integration.
- Jose Figueroa; Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Howard Goldman; University of Maryland School of Medicine
- Jeff Richardson; Mosaic Community Services
- Benjamin Miller; Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center, Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine
NASADAD attends briefing on patient review and restriction programs
Brian Denten, Public Policy Intern, attended the briefing hosted by The Pew Charitable Trusts on Tuesday, November 3rd. The briefing focused on the expansion of patient review and restriction (PRR) programs to Medicare Part D beneficiaries in an effort to curb the growing prevalence of prescription drug abuse disorders. PRR programs are used by State Medicaid programs to restrict a patient’s access to prescription drugs if they are suspected of misuse without eliminating the patient’s Medicaid benefits altogether. PRR-type programs are currently used in 46 States and Washington, DC, but are not used within Medicare Part D. 9 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries received prescription opioids for chronic pain in 2011, with 225,000 of these patients taking unsafe doses for over 90 consecutive days. Of these patients, “over 28 percent obtained prescriptions from four or more prescribers, and almost 18 percent used four or more pharmacies to obtain prescription opioid drugs.” The expansion of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Overutilization Monitoring System (OMS) Medicare Part D beneficiaries would provide prescribers with additional resources for identifying at-risk patients. Panelists stressed the importance of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) similar to PRRs in improving prescriber practices and reducing rates of prescription drug misuse.
- Michael Botticelli; Director, National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President
- Dr. Tom Frieden; Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
Should you have any questions, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Morrison, Executive Director, (202) 293-0090 or Shalini Wickramatilake-Templeman, Public Policy Associate, at (202) 293-0090.