Friday, May 26, 2017

nc-action-alertNow that Congress has finalized the FY2017 appropriations process, it is poised to begin working on appropriations for FY2018.

Mental Health First Aid champion Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is today circulating a letter requesting continued funding for Mental Health First Aid trainings. The program that provides training to emergency first responders, law enforcement personnel, primary care personnel, Human Resources professionals, faith community leaders, veterans, teachers, and students and their parents.



Will you please take two minutes and urge your Senator to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter (text below) supporting Mental Health First Aid training for this important population?

Earlier this year, Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) circulated a similar letter and due, in part, to outreach by National Council advocates, 23 bipartisan legislators signed on to a letter supporting Mental Health First Aid in the House.

Today, we are asking you again to demonstrate that bipartisan, nationwide support for Mental Health First Aid and ask your Senators to sign on.
Thank you for your hard work and advocacy!


Chuck Ingoglia
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement
National Council for Behavioral Health


The Honorable Roy Blunt                              The Honorable Patty Murray
Chairman                                                        Ranking Member
Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations                 Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations
Subcommittee                                                 Subcommittee
135 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.                    156 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510                                Washington, D.C.  20510
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:
We are writing to urge you to include the current funding level of $15 million for Mental Health First Aid and important Committee report language in the FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS) appropriations bill. This important mental health training program will improve education and awareness about mental illness in our communities, giving those trained the ability to intervene and address mental health crises as they happen.
Mental Health First Aid is an evidenced-based education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to the signs of mental illness. Since FY 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has funded state and local educational agencies to support the training of school personnel including classroom teachers, counselors, and principals.  Most recently, the agency has maintained the program’s youth focus, but expanded the eligible grantees to include youth-focused organizations and nonprofits, as well as community colleges.
Last year, as part of its One Mind Campaign, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) endorsed Mental Health First Aid as an evidence-based practice to improve law enforcement interactions involving persons with mental illnesses.  To date, nearly sixty local law enforcement agencies have adopted the IACP One Mind Campaign pledge to train and certify 100 percent of their incoming cadets, sworn patrol officers, and police dispatchers in Mental Health First Aid.
In view of these developments, we are proposing the inclusion of committee report language that would add public safety audiences to the Mental Health First Aid program. Particularly for law enforcement personnel, the crisis de-escalation component of the training protects the lives of both officers and citizens experiencing psychiatric crises.
Therefore, we ask that the Committee add this language to the FY 2018 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report:
Mental Health First Aid – The Committee is pleased with the progress of Mental Health First Aid including training more than 740,000 Americans to recognize the signs and symptoms of common mental disorders. In continuing competitive funding opportunities, SAMHSA is directed to include as eligible grantees local law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and emergency medical units with a special emphasis on training for crisis de-escalation techniques. SAMHSA is also encouraged to prioritize training for veterans, armed services personnel, and their family members within the Mental Health First Aid program.
As mental illness impacts the lives of millions of Americans and their families and too many mental health disorders continue to go undiagnosed and untreated, we must make prudent investments to improve mental health awareness in our communities. That is why we urge you to support funding for Mental Health First Aid in FY 2018 and include this important report language.
Richard Blumenthal
U.S. Senator


Questions, contact Jack Phillips.


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Congress will vote TODAY on the American Health Care Act. While congressional leaders believe they have the votes to pass the health care reform bill, experts are saying this vote will come down to the wire.

With dozens of legislators still undecided, constituent advocacy and outreach are the only things that will move votes into the “No” column. Will you take action today and urge Congress to vote “No” on the American Health Care Act?

  1. Dial this number: 202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative.
  2. Share with them this message:
    • Your message: “I am calling about the American Health Care Act. I urge you to oppose the amended bill and reject any proposal that results in cuts or rollbacks of Medicaid. The amended bill directly targets important protections like the essential health benefits and protections for those with pre-existing conditions and hurts efforts to achieve parity in health care. Any proposals that rollback Medicaid coverage or restrict people’s access to treatment will have a devastating effect on millions of Americans with mental illness or addiction. I’m calling from [city, state, and zip] and my name is [first and last name].”

**Need help finding your Rep? Click here!**

Since January, thousands of National Council advocates have engaged with us and their legislators, writing letters, making phone calls and hosting meetings. Thousands of advocates have worked hard to ensure their voices and their priorities were heard on Capitol Hill. We thank you for that amazing work and hope you will join us once again today as we work to stop the passage of this harmful legislation.

Together, we can work to preserve Medicaid and protect coverage of mental health and addictions treatment for millions of Americans. Together, we can #Unite4BH!


Chuck Ingoglia
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement
National Council for Behavioral Health


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“RCPA is a member of the National Council and we received this urgent request regarding the ACA.  Whether or not your agency is part of the National Council, we ask that you seriously consider joining this effort.” – Richard S. Edley, RCPA President/CEO

Last night, an amendment to the American Health Care Act was released, providing a concrete sign that Congress is again working on legislation that would gut federal investment in Medicaid and devastate Americans’ mental health and addiction coverage and care.

In addition to restructuring Medicaid and shifting over $800 billion in costs to states, the revised version of the American Health Care Act directly targets provisions that are important to mental health and addiction advocates, including: rolling back essential health benefits, eliminating protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and widening the gap in primary and behavioral health parity. For millions of individuals, these provisions would mean restricted access to Medicaid, restricted access to affordable coverage and restricted access to lifesaving mental health and addictions treatment.

Please take 2 minutes today and urge your legislators to oppose the revised American Health Care Act. Click here to get started!

Thank you to all National Council advocates who have engaged with us this year. We are asking that you continue to join us in uniting for behavioral health and ensuring that every American has the mental health and addiction care they need.


Chuck Ingoglia
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement
National Council for Behavioral Health

(From ONDCP)

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Trump Administration designated Richard Baum to serve as Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy until a permanent director is nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

Acting Director Baum has served in a variety of roles at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for two decades and through four presidential administrations. He has a broad range of experience on domestic and international drug control policy issues, including leading the development of key strategic documents such as the National Drug Control Strategy. Most recently, as Chief of the International Division at ONDCP, he was a part of the United States Delegation to the meeting of the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria.

Acting Director Baum is replacing Kemp Chester, who was appointed as Acting Director on Inauguration Day. During his tenure, Acting Director Chester advanced the Administration’s drug policy priorities, which include promoting prevention and treatment for substance abuse while stopping the trafficking of illicit drugs. Mr. Chester, a retired Colonel in the US Army, will return to his previous role as the Associate Director for the National Heroin Coordination Group at ONDCP, which leads the US Government’s response to the threat of illicit opioids.

“I am deeply honored to have been designated by President Trump to serve as Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy,” Mr. Baum said. “In my two decades of service at ONDCP, I’ve seen the heart-breaking suffering caused by illegal drugs, as well as the incredible work of dedicated individuals working to address drug abuse and its consequences. I look forward to continuing that work.”

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Important legislation is being considered and voted on in the US House of Representatives on Thursday, March 23, 2017. We urge RCPA members to contact their US Representatives before Thursday and urge them to oppose any effort that would result in federal funds being limited to states for the purpose of providing health care and home and community-based services (HCBS) to people with mental illness, substance use disorders, or people with physical, cognitive, developmental, or intellectual disabilities.

Block grants or per-capita caps, by design, limit such funding to states, jeopardizing access to necessary health care and HCBS to people who need Medicaid the most. RCPA opposes any changes in federal Medicaid law that would harm people with mental illness, substance use disorders, or people with physical, cognitive, developmental, or intellectual disabilities. We urge RCPA members to contact their members of Congress before Thursday to convey this sentiment.

RCPA is providing the following action alert links of our national partners at ANCOR (email action tool), National Council for Behavioral Health, and ACCSES, should you wish to avail yourself of their technology to communicate with your US Representative. Or, you can tailor your own message and send directly to your member of Congress. You can locate and then communicate with your member of Congress by using this link. Please direct questions to Jack Phillips.

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The National Council for Behavioral Health has drafted a document outlining Medicaid funding in Pennsylvania for mental health and drug and alcohol services. The document provides pertinent information regarding how much money Pennsylvania receives in Medicaid funding and how Medicaid expansion has helped the state’s economy and allowed more individuals to receive health care benefits. Please contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs, with questions.


Save the Date Tuesday, January 17:
Call Congress to Protect Medicaid Expansion

As Congress continues taking steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the National Council for Behavioral Health is joining together with Mental Health America, Addiction Policy Forum, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and National Alliance on Mental Illness to protect the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.

Next Tuesday, January 17, we are asking advocates to join us in a nationwide call-in day to protect patients’ access to mental health and addictions services by preserving the Medicaid expansion. By taking just 10 minutes next Tuesday to call your Representative and two Senators, you will join thousands of dedicated advocates to have your voice heard in Congress. Join us and help save Medicaid expansion in 2017!

Why is Medicaid expansion important? Medicaid expansion is vital to our community—it provides health coverage to millions of Americans with mental health and addiction disorders. Without Medicaid expansion, low-income people across the country will be left as they were before the ACA, with no pathway to affordable health coverage.

Why advocate now? It is urgent that we defend Medicaid expansion now before Congress votes on ACA repeal. The more noise we make now, the better our chances of delaying or stopping future cuts to Medicaid.

Call-In Day Prep: Mark your calendar for January 17! The National Council will send out more information including step-by-step instructions for National Call-In Day to Protect Medicaid Expansion next week. In the meantime, you can prepare for your calls by reviewing these Call-In Day Instructions and Medicaid expansion talking points.

Have questions? Please feel free to reach out to Stephanie Pellitt at

Thank you for your continued hard work and advocacy as we work to protect Medicaid in 2017.


Chuck Ingoglia
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement
National Council for Behavioral Health