CMS finalizes mental health parity rules


On March 30, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published final rules on mental health/substance use disorder parity requirements applicable to Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs), Medicaid alternative benefit plans (ABPs), and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The final Medicaid/CHIP rules are based on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), which generally prohibits more restrictive cost-sharing (e.g., co-payments and deductibles), quantitative limitations (e.g., visit limits), and non-quantitative limitations in mental health/substance use disorder benefits under a health plan than in medical/surgical coverage under the same plan. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services


HHS issues report on behavioral health benefits of Medicaid expansion


On March 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) issued a report entitled, “Benefits of Medicaid Expansion for Behavioral Health.” The report estimates that about 1.9 million low-income uninsured persons with mental illness or substance use disorders live in states that have not yet expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services


Supreme Court requests supplemental briefs in contraceptive case


On March 30, 2016, the Supreme Court garnered extensive media coverage after making what is described as an “unusual” request for supplemental briefs in the challenge to the contraceptive mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services


Brief - Child Welfare / Child Neglect


Neuroscience shows us that by redressing child neglect, child welfare agencies can not only reduce human suffering, but equip generations of children to become productive members of society. State policymakers can now build on scientific facts to raise the odds of success for youth born into challenging circumstances, break the inter-generational cycle of child neglect, and ease the burden on our systems of child welfare, education, and criminal justice. [More]

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Categories:Corporate | Health and Human Services


Adopting Science-based Policies to Combat Child Neglect Can Increase Wellbeing, Boost Opportunity, and Curb Costs of Government, Concludes Report by Institute for Child Success and Public Consulting Group


Boston, MA – March 31, 2016. Neuroscience-based policies to combat child neglect can usher a new era of wellbeing and opportunity while reducing strain on government services, according to a recent report by the Institute for Child Success and Public Consulting Group, a leading public sector consulting firm. [More]


Behavioral Health’s Move Toward Value-Based Purchasing


“Alternative payment models are not an option for behavioral health providers,” Arizona Medicaid Director Tom Betlach said, “They are your growth strategy.” Betlach’s point was very clear and it resonated with the more than 5,500 attendees at NatCon, where Payment Reform – be it alternative payment methodologies (APMs) or value-based purchasing (VBP) models like Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) initiatives – was a key theme. In line with this, New York State’s DSRIP efforts were highlighted repeatedly throughout the conference. (PCG has played an instrumental role in spearheading New York’s initiative). Government agencies have become “first movers” towards VBP, stressing the importance of “whole person care,” not just “sick care.” [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services


CCBHC Is The Start of Something Good!


CCBHCs! That’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers, for those not familiar with the billion dollar investment that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will soon make to state behavioral health systems. In 2014, Congress passed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 4302), which included a demonstration program based on the Excellence in Mental Health Act. [More]


The Science of Addiction


Research presented by Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, at NatCon used brain imaging to dramatically illustrate how addiction changes brain function. Dr. Volkow’s research demonstrates, for example, that the frontal cortex – or reward center – of the brain weakens as a result of alcohol and illicit drug use. Because the tissue no longer functions in the same way, addiction must be considered a disease of the brain, just as heart disease is a disease of the heart. [More]


CMS Issues Final Guidance for QHPs


States have been awaiting the final guidance regarding 2017 certification standards for Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its proposals at the end of last year. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services


CBO revises U.S. health care budget estimates


On March 24, 2016, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report entitled, “Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People under Age 65: 2016 to 2026.” The CBO report shows that the net costs of all Federal subsidies, taxes, and penalties related to health insurance coverage, for persons under age 65, will be $660 billion in 2016 (3.6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product). [More]