Advocacy, education, and political action are the core activities of the NAADAC Public Policy Department.

As the new Presidential Administration begins to lay out its federal legislative agenda, NAADAC will assess how this will inform and influence our major advocacy priorities in the near future. NAADAC continues to focus on the following initiatives:  

  • Ensuring that the Affordable Care Act is not repealed until there is a substantive replacement that meets the needs of those with substance use and co-occurring disorders and that insurance parity for substance use and co-occurring disorders are fairly and effectively implemented and monitored.
  • Growing and developing the addiction professional workforce in the 21st century.
  • Increasing federal funding levels for addiction prevention, treatment, recovery, and research programs.

NAADAC believes that advocacy is the lifeblood of securing and sustaining the addiction profession and uses the following list of components as tools to empower addiction-focused professionals and educate policymakers:

Without the dedicated advocates who empower the profession, our members and their clients will not have a voice.

What is public policy? It is a body of laws, plans, actions, and behaviors of a government and in this case, NAADAC, that reflect the attitudes and rules selected for the good of the substance use disorder/addiction clients, their families and the addiction professionals who serve them.

Why is public policy important to the addiction professional? Public policy is the vehicle through which we can ensure the work of addiction-focused professionals is sustained and secured through funding, education/training, and other supportive systems.

Privacy and Health Information Systems

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced on June 16, 2010, the release of FAQs for Applying the Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations to Health Information Exchanges (HIEs).

  • Cover letter regarding the FAQs by Pamela S. Hyde, the Administrator of SAMHSA, and David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for ONC. The letter describes that the Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations under 42 CFR Part 2 were enacted years ago (circa 1975). Due to the age of the regulations SAMHSA and ONC created the FAQs to provide guidance and understanding of the scope of these regulations in the context of today's move toward an electronic health information system.
  • Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations FAQs - A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document for applying the Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations to Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) was released on 6/16/2010. This document is an educational tool that serves as a resource for practitioners in the field, as they are applying the Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations to Health Information Exchange activities, but does not provide legal advice to its user. The FAQs outline the general requirements under 42 CFR Part 2, provide guidance on its application to HIEs, and identify methods for including substance abuse related health information into HIEs that is consistent with the Federal statute.
  • As a follow-up to the release of the FAQs, SAMHSA and ONC will convene a meeting of concerned or interested parties from both the Behavioral Health and Information Technology (BH-IT) communities on August 4, 2010. The meeting will be an opportunity for SAMHSA and ONC to receive questions and comments on the FAQs.

SAMHSA Reauthorization

On May 28, 2010, Congressmen Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) and Gene Green (D-TX) introduced H.R.5466 – the SAMHSA Modernization Act of 2010, to reauthorize the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). More Information.

Health Care Reform

Throughout the healthcare reform legislative process, NAADAC was committed to ensuring that substance use disorder services and the professionals who provide them were fully included in all drafts of the legislation. Now, as we move into the implementation phase of the law, NAADAC will continue to work to ensure that the regulations for health care reform and insurance parity for substance use disorders are fairly and effectively implemented. Please find more information on health care reform below.

NAADAC is pleased to provide several new resources for addiction professionals concerning the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

  1. What Does the Affordable Care Act Mean for Addiction Treatment
  2. Health Care Reform: Potential Impact (PowerPoint Presentation to NAADAC by John O’Brien SAMHSA)

Health Insurance Exchange Regulations

The Federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a proposed rule(NPRM) for the health insurance Exchanges created by the new health care reform law. It is very important that the Exchanges address mental health (MH) and substance use disorders (SUD) in the strongest way possible. Read the NAADAC response.

Health Reform Resources

NAADAC belongs to the Coalition for Whole Health, where advocates from the mental health and substance use disorder communities are working together on implementation of the Affordable Care Act.


January 2011 Health Reform Implementation Update (From the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare)

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continued this month with several changes that went into effect as of January 1, 2011.
These changes include:

  • Medicaid Health Homes State Option: States may now amend their Medicaid programs to provide chronic disease management, including behavioral health services, to targeted Medicaid beneficiaries through health homes. Click here for the National Council’s synopsis of the program requirements.
  • Closing the Donut Hole: Pharmaceutical companies will provide a 50% discount on brand-name drugs for Medicare beneficiaries who reach the donut hole in 2011. Click here for our fact sheet with more information about closing the donut hole.
  • Free Medicare Preventive Benefits: Certain preventive benefits in Medicare, including annual wellness visits, are now available without a co-pay. Click for more.
  • Primary Care Payment Increase: A 10% increase in Medicare payments for primary care went into effect Jan. 1. Click for more.
  • Minimum Medical Loss Ratio: Insurance companies must now spend at least 80-85% of consumers’ premiums on paying for patient care, rather than administrative costs or profit. Click for more.
  • Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation: The new Center is tasked with examining delivery system and payment reforms that will save money and improve the quality of care. Click for more.
  • Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS): CLASS is a voluntary, long-term care insurance program for the purchase of home- and community-based services by individuals with functional impairments. Click for more.