January 2019
The Federation is involved at the national level in monitoring legislation, funding opportunities, advocacy opportunities and resources that could aid your work as the voice for families.
Legislative Actions
The Federation actively represents you as part of the  Mental Health Liaison Group  (MHLG).   The MHLG is a forum for collaboration among the leading national mental health and addiction-focused organizations. Together, we provide policymakers with information and support in advancing our shared policy priorities. The MHLG hosts congressional staff briefings to share information on trends and best practices in the field; provides annual recommendations on mental health and addiction funding in the federal appropriations bills, writes letters to Congress outlining our position on important legislation or offering suggestions for improving proposed policies and more.

  • The Mental Health Caucus co-chairs, Representatives Napolitano and Katko, released an announcement regarding the Administration’s changes to Medicare Part D Six Protected Classes. As Co-Chairs of the Mental Health Caucus, they were troubled that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is now considering changes to Medicare Part D’s Six Protected Classes that would effectively strip these crucial medicines of their protected status. The proposed rule published in November 2018 would allow stable patients to be forced to undergo a sometimes-lengthy prior authorization or fail-first in order to stay on the medicine(s) that have already proved to be effective treatments that keep them alive. 
  • Link to the Mental Health Caucus
  • Partnership for Part D Access

  • As part of the MHLG we also supported the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act – legislation to extend and expand the Medicaid initiative that created Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). 
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention Act Reauthorized
Congress unanimously passed, and in December President Trump signed into law, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 , reauthorizing and substantially amending the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDP Act).  Under the newly passed legislation, core protections will be strengthened, and critical, research-based improvements will be made that reaffirm a national commitment to the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system. The law remains the only federal statute that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system and provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements.

Advocates say the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is a huge victory, since its funding has drastically declined over the years and its provisions have become outdated, putting youth charged with crimes at risk. 

JDPA has Policies and Requirements that:
  • Address racial disparities by requiring data collection and a plan to address the problem
  • Keep youth out of adult jails and separate from adult inmates 
  • Ensure children and youth aren’t detained for status offenses such as skipping school or possessing alcohol
  • Would dictate that states employ trauma-informed screening for youth who enter the system
  • Promote community-based alternatives to detaining young offenders
Leading Practices for State Programs to Certify Peer Support Specialists
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked at how six states certify that peer support specialists — individuals who use their own experience recovering from mental illnesses — have basic competencies and the ability to support others. The GAO found six leading practices, including training specialists’ in-person and requiring continuing education, and outlined them in their report.

What the GAO Found:
According to officials from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), shortages in the behavioral health workforce are a key reason that individuals with mental illnesses do not receive needed treatment. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on using peer support specialists to help address these shortages. Program officials at the GAO interviewed in selected states and generally cited six leading practices for certifying that peer support specialists have a basic set of competencies and have demonstrated the ability to support others.
Representative Paul Tonko
On January 4th, the American Psychiatric Association and Mental Health Liaison Group hosted a meeting of advocates and professionals with Congressman Paul Tonko and the Federation was able to be a part of that important dialogue. The Congressman demonstrated a true understanding of the need and benefits of mental health services and was eager to learn more about the MHLG member priorities for the upcoming Congress. Representative Tonko is a strong advocate for Mental Health Parity. Congressman Tonko representing the 20th District of New York. He serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee.    

From Rep. Tonko on why improving Mental Health in America is important:
" I made mental health a priority during my days in the New York State Assembly when I first met Timothy O’ Clair at a little league game in 2001. Timothy was a bright and energetic youngster with the whole world ahead of him. Unfortunately, Timothy also suffered from a debilitating mental illness. When Timothy’s insurance would no longer cover his treatment, his parents were forced to disown him in order to get treatment. Unable to receive the appropriate care, at the age of 12, Timothy tragically completed suicide. Timothy’s struggle to get the care he needed is what first led me down the path of working to improve the mental health system in America.

Successfully passing mental health parity in the New York State Assembly – Timothy’s Law – gave me the drive to improve the way we approach mental health care in America nationwide. To me, that means reducing the stigma for those seeking care, addressing the growing problem of substance abuse, and giving our health care professionals the resources they need to adequately recognize and address the challenges those who live with mental illness must grapple with every day."
State-Specific Children's Preventative Services

NASHP has updated maps and an accompanying chart featuring state-specific Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program improvement projects, measures, and incentives that promote children’s preventive services. Featured state strategies include managed care organization measures and Medicaid transformation initiatives that promote behavioral health screenings, weight assessment, immunizations, preventive oral health services, well-child visits, and lead screenings. The update is supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, as part of the Maternal and Child Health Policy Innovations Project.
Free Grant Management Training

This free training from the White House Office of Management and Budget's Chief Financial Officers Council includes five modules that provide general information on grants and cooperative agreements. Grant recipients and their staff, pass-through entities, and potential grant recipients can use this training to develop an understanding of grant management.
We will continue to provide these overviews and updates and we need your help. Alerting us to what is happening on the state level will aid not only those in your state but others nationally as ideas spread. As you become aware of state or national legislative alerts, funding and advocacy opportunities or resources that could be used to build funding requests, please let us know by emailing mcovington@ffcmh.org .