On March 3, 2020, NAADAC participated in a small roundtable on Capital Hill hosted by Representatives Kennedy (D-MA), Tonko (D-NY), Matsui (D-CA), Cardanes (D-CA), Trone (D-MD) and Chairwoman Eshoo to discuss barriers, challenges, and solutions for improving our mental health and addiction care systems. The meeting brought together Representatives and stakeholders from both public and private sectors to discuss the Comprehensive Mental Health Bill and ways to improve mental and behavioral health treatment and access to care.
The open dialogue focused on ways to better coordinate care, enforce parity laws, incentivize workforce development, and understand the comorbidity associated with other illnesses, including substance use disorder.
Workforce remained a common theme throughout the discussion, as the group explored topics such as how low reimbursement rates and wages impact retention and recruitment. Provider groups around the table emphasized the importance of creating and bolstering incentives, like tuition support and student loan repayment. The group also debated confidentiality and the continuing role of stigma in mental health care delivery.
The convening Members of Congress and their staff hope to continue the conversation, integrate stakeholder feedback, and unveil legislation to improve mental health and addiction access and care delivery across our system. NAADAC looks forward to continuing to be a voice in these discussions and will be sure to keep you updated on new developments.
NAADAC Executive Director Cynthia Moreno Tuohy spoke to the following issues at the Roundtable discussion:
- The need for the inclusion of the word and the discipline of addiction in all bills that are mental health-related and include a SUD component, including the Comprehensive Mental Health Bill.
- That infrastructure support for public-funded SUD facilities is essential and funding the SAPT Block Grant is necessary to meet that need.
- The need for increased funding for SUD infrastructure and workforce development.Tuition support is a more effective way to incentivize potential students than loan forgiveness programs. Salaries and benefits are low in mental health and addiction disciplines and the repayment of loans is not as attractive.
- Disbanding 42 CFR is not in the best interest of clients/patients with addictive disorders. Revising 42 CFR or creating more flexibility in Qualified Service Organization Agreements (QSOA) may be a method to support record sharing without jeopardizing client/patient confidentiality protection.
- Establishing national credentials is an effective means to create more access to treatment due to transportability and telehealth.NAADAC’s NCC AP has national credentials from the peer level to the PhD level and is an effective model to use.
- School-based programs with community-based addiction and mental health professionals are an effective way to bring into the schools without the politics and rules of schools effecting the services that can be performed.
NAADAC was pleased that to be able to support the addiction profession in this roundtable as one of the only addiction-specific organization represented. Other organizations that attended this event include Aetna, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Medical Association, American Mental Health Counselors Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, American Psychological Association, America's Health Insurance Plans, Anthem, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, Bazelon Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Campaign for Youth Justice, Cigna, HCSC, Humana, Kaiser, Mental Health America, NAADAC the Association For Addiction, National Alliance for Mental Illness, National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health, National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, National Association of Social Workers, National Council on Aging, PMJ, The Council of State Governments Justice Center, and The Kennedy Forum.
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