D.C. Update – January 18, 2017


In the News

Around the Agencies

Capitol Hill Happenings

Upcoming Events


In the News

National Academy of Sciences releases report on Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids

Last week the National Academy of Sciences released a report on The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids. The report provides a comprehensive review of scientific evidence related to the health effects and potential medical uses of cannabis. It also outlines gaps in current knowledge, summarizing and prioritizing pressing research needs. The report provides an overview of cannabis, prevalence of use, regulation, and the current policy landscape; therapeutic effects of cannabis; the effect of cannabis on specific health issues, such as cancer, cardiometabolic problems, and others; mental health effects of cannabis and the relationship between cannabis use and other substance use; and other issues.

The entire report is accessible online here.

Harvard and NYU release results from joint study on impact of ACA repeal on individuals with mental health or substance use disorder

The Harvard University Medical School and New York University have released results from a joint study on the possible implications of repealing the Affordable Care Act for individuals with a mental health and/or substance use disorder. Researchers released three tables: 1) individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorder needs who are enrolled in Health Insurance Marketplace Exchanges or Medicaid expansion program; 2) opioid-related mortality, prescription opioid use, and Buprenorphine-based medication-assisted treatment; and 3) U.S. reductions in covered users of behavioral health care and spending covered by insurance programs. Researchers also released a document with an interpretation of the tables.

Access the data tables here.

Read the researchers’ interpretation of results here.

Around the Agencies

Update of APIS website includes new information on State alcohol and marijuana policies

The Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS), which is a project of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), has announced its annual update of State-by-State alcohol and cannabis policies. The update includes substantive changes in State alcohol and marijuana policy statutes and regulations that occurred though January 1, 2016. Overarching categories of updated State policies include: underage drinking; retail sales; taxation; pregnancy and alcohol; alcoholic beverage pricing; blood alcohol concentration limits; alcohol control systems; transportation; health care services and financing; and cannabis policy.

Access the updated APIS website here.

GAO report on States’ timeliness for screening newborns for conditions that may require treatment

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report on States’ timeliness for screening newborns within recommended goals to detect conditions that may require treatment. In 2015 the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children recommended time-frame goals for newborn screening, such as reporting all results within 7 days of birth. The GAO report summarizes data provided by 38 states for 2012-2015, showing that States generally had not met the HHS committee’s suggested benchmark of meeting each time-frame goal for at least 95 percent of specimens. GAO notes that every year, over 12,000 newborns are born with heritable or other conditions that require early detection and treatment.

Read the full report here.

Capitol Hill Happenings

Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus has new co-chairs, seeks new members

The House of Representatives Addiction, Treatment and Recovery (ATR) Caucus, which has been chaired by Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), has two new additional co-chairs, Congressmen Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). The four co-chairs sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all members of Congress last week urging them to join the Caucus. The goal of the ATR Caucus is to educate and raise awareness among lawmakers about addiction prevention and treatment, and change the stigma associated with substance use and mental health disorders.

House and Senate leaders send letter to Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) on Medicaid eligibility and benefits

Last week bicameral leaders sent a letter to the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) on Medicaid eligibility and benefits. Specifically, the letter requests that MACPAC analyze the optional Medicaid eligibility and benefit categories that States have chosen to cover, and analyze spending for those categories. The letter was signed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT; Chair of the Finance Committee), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR; Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee), Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA; Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee), and Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX; Chair of the Health Subcommittee within the Energy and Commerce Committee).

The signatories write that, “…it is important to better understand the optional eligibility groups and optional benefits States are covering. Clearly, some optional benefits – such as prescription drug coverage – are important for virtually all beneficiaries. Yet other benefits may be more necessary as a covered benefit for a subset of beneficiaries. However, this information is not easily discernable in one source for each state. Instead, this information exists across multiple, disaggregated sources that make meaningful review a challenge.”

Read the full letter here.

Upcoming Events

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation webinar on Evolving Treatment Practices to Address the Opioid Crisis

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation will be hosting a webinar on January 18th at 1:00pm EST on Evolving Treatment Practices to Address the Opioid Crisis. The webinar will help participants learn how medication-assisted treatment (MAT), along with other evidence-based treatment practices, has improved treatment outcomes. Presenters include Audrey Klein, Executive Director of the Butler Center for Research, and Cathy Stone, Manager of the Comprehensive Opioid Response with the Twelve Steps (COR-12) program.

Register for the webinar here.

Association for Community Health Improvement (ACHI) webinar on Substance Use Prevention

The Association for Community Health Improvement (ACHI) will be hosting a webinar on the research behind substance use prevention and highlight the State of Utah for its efforts to address the opioid crisis and underage drinking. The webinar will feature a presentation by Dr. Bethany Deeds from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), who will provide an overview of how evidence-based prevention can be used to develop policies and interventions to address the needs of communities. Additionally, Craig PoVey (National Prevention Network member from Utah) and Laura Nichols will describe opioid misuse prevention efforts and an underage drinking campaign in Utah. Jane Sanville from the Executive Office of the President will moderate the panel. The webinar will be held on January 19th from 2:00–3:00pm EST.

Register for the webinar here.

CDC conference call on the cost of injury in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control will be hosting a conference call to discuss key findings and implications of a recently released Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) article on the cost of injury in the United States. The publication notes that in 2014, a total of 199,756 fatal injuries occurred in the United States, associated with $227 billion in lifetime medical and job-related costs. The report reviews the State-level economic burdens of injuries. The CDC conference call will feature a presentation by Dr. Curtis Florence, Lead Health Economist, and Sara Patterson, Associate Director for Policy. The call will be held on Wednesday, January 18th from 10:00am–10:45am EST.

There is no need to register for the call; please use the following dial-in information:

  • Conference Bridge Line: 877-937-6089
  • Participant Code: 6673907


If you have any questions about the call, please contact Kinzie Lee at hli6@cdc.gov.

Read the MMWR article here.

OJJDP webinar series on newly released Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) are hosting a three-part webinar series to discuss the newly released Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines. The guidelines aim to support judges and professional court staff, youth with substance use disorders, and their families. The goal of the guidelines is to “synthesize evidence from juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTCs) to determine the implementation components associated with the best outcomes and to supplement this understanding with research from related fields and interventions serving the same target population” (youth with substance use disorders at medium to high risk for reoffending).

The webinar topics and dates are as follows:

  • Overview: The New Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines – Wednesday, January 25th at 1:30pm EST.
  • Part 1: New Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines: Implications for Practice – Wednesday, February 8th at 1:30pm EST.
  • Part 2: New Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines: Implications for Practice – Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 1:30pm EST.


Register for the webinars here.


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Should you have any questions, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Morrison, Executive Director, or Shalini Wickramatilake-Templeman, Federal Affairs Manager, at (202) 293-0090.