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Advocacy Update

We have EXTENDED registration until Friday, January 17th, for the 2014 Government Affairs Institute (GAI) and AJFCA Advocacy Mission.  The GAI will be held from Tuesday, February 4 - Wednesday, February 5, 2014, in Washington, DC, and you can register through this link. It is advised you register immediately to allow time to schedule hill visits.  If you have any questions please contact Shelley Rood.

On December 10th, Vice-President Biden announced a $100 million in new funding for mental health services.   The funds would be split evenly between the Department of Agriculture which will focus on rural mental health, and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) which will target improved access to mental health services within Community Health Centers (CHCs).  Unlike Community Mental Health Centers (a vague umbrella term which encompasses many of our Jewish Family & Children's Agencies) , CHC's are federally qualified and will be eligible for these funds.  After performing due diligence, it appears that these funds will not directly benefit our agencies.  However, should these agencies have productive relationships (or, better  yet, partnerships) with CHC's, our partner agencies should work constructively with them to see if a collaboration is possible.

On December 12th, the Senate Finance Committee reported out legislation related to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR / also known as the "doc fix") and on Medicare Therapy Caps.   AJFCA remains supportive of this language.  Within the language reported out, there was a provision included regarding Excellence in Mental Health Act Demonstration projects.  The Excellence Act is a bipartisan bill (S. 264 - Stabenow/Blunt) which seeks to add additional funding to community health providers who qualify for a new certification status (Certified Behavioral Health Centers).   The proposal would establish a 10 state demonstration program where states that participate would certify mental health providers who would need to meet a high standard of care and offer a broad range of mental health services such as:

  • Crisis psychiatric services available on a 24 hour basis and screening
  • Evidence based and integrated treatment for mental illness, substance abuse,and trauma including cognitive behavioral therapy, applied behavioral analysis, and medication management
  •  Expanded peer support and counselor services for individuals and families
  • Integrated preventive screening  for diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease

These services would be reimbursed under Medicaid in a similar arrangement to Federally Qualified Community Health Centers.    The proposal would cost $1.6 Billion over 10 years.