Latest Action Alerts

Tell Congress to Act to Avoid Sequestration:

 

On January 2, 2013, vital programs that benefit all Americans, including mental health and social service programs, will face devastating, across-the-board cuts of between 8 and 11 percent through an arcane budget tool known as "sequestration"—unless Congress acts to prevent them.

The cuts are required under The Budget Control Act of 2011, which had directed a “Super Committee” to find $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years in both defense and non-defense discretionary spending.  Because the committee failed to reach a deal, the automatic cuts are scheduled to be triggered at the beginning of the year.

 These mandatory cuts will have a devastating impact on mental health and substance use programs and services and related public health programs that are supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and other key agencies. A Mental Health America report on the sequestration details how these indiscriminate cuts would harm individuals living with mental health and substance use conditions.

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Vote for America’s Mental Health in 2012: A Guide to Rights and Issues

The party conventions are now over and the campaigns are in full swing. So where do the candidates stand on mental health? And how do new voting laws affect your ability to register to vote and cast a ballot?

take action3With all the changes happening at the state and federal level, it’s more important than ever for the mental health community to be involved in this year’s election. We’ve prepared a special Voter Guide to ensure that people with mental health and substance use conditions feel empowered and able to vote; to make candidates at the federal, state, and local levels respond to the concerns of the mental health community; and to encourage all voters to ultimately Vote for America’s Mental Health in 2012.

You will find voter registration information, questions for town halls and candidate forums, talking points and sample letters to the editors, social media tips, and helpful websites and additional resources.

We hope you will use this guide in the weeks ahead to be informed, get involved and Vote for America’s Mental Health in 2012.

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What Does Health Reform Mean for You? Speak Out!

This Friday marks the two-year anniversary of the passage of the health reform law (the Affordable Care Act) and next week the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments on whether it is constitutional, with a ruling expected early this summer.

The success of health reform is critical to the future of millions of Americans living with mental health and substance use conditions who are helped by the law’s expansion of access to treatment.

It prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for children and adults with pre-existing medical conditions—and insurers won’t be able to use those conditions to raise premiums. For the first time, mental health and substance use disorder services must be covered under plans offered to small businesses and individuals, extending the groundbreaking Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to those plans.

Mental Health America Capitol Hill Day

June 25-26, 2012 - Hyatt Regency Washington at Capitol Hill - Washington, D.C.

Capitol Hill Day is one of Mental Health America's most important annual events. Every year, hundreds of affiliates and advocates join forces to ensure that our voice is heard by Senators and Representatives on issues that are critical to the mental health and addiction communities.

Mental Health America's Capitol Hill Day has traditionally kicked off our annual conference, which is usually held in June.

This year, partly in response to your suggestions, Mental Health America's annual conference will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, September 19-21. Because we are committed to Capitol Hill Day, we are joining with the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare to continue our long-held tradition of highlighting our presence and issues on Capitol Hill!

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The 117th session of the Indiana General Assembly has adjourned "Sine Die"

In the early hours of Saturday, March 10th, the Indiana General Assembly adjourned "Sine Die". "Sine Die" is Latin for "without a day" and when the Indiana General Assembly adjourns Sine Die, it means without assigning another day for a meeting or hearing.

The members--and the lobbyists--of the 2012 Indiana General Assembly were certainly ready for a day without a meeting or hearing. As has been well-documented, the 2012 Session has been a difficult one, with gut-wrenching issues that have caused legislative exhaustion and a desire for an early adjournment. Even though there were additional days left on the calendar, Leadership had hoped to end the Session on March 9th, but in the end, it went well past midnight and into the next morning. While it has been difficult--and many would say that the Legislature failed to focus on the state's truly critical issues, Mental Health America worked diligently to make significant strides forward. Significant legislation on MHAI's agenda did pass, while Legislators pushed others into Summer Study Committees. There will be much on MHAI's plate in the upcoming Summer Interim.

IT IS HALF-TIME!!!

The 2012 Indiana General Assembly has certainly been unique to-date. This is a Short Session, a Session that precedes the presidential election with a schedule divided by the Super Bowl as well as Right-to Work legislation. While it has been difficult for legislators to focus on the other matters at hand, Mental Health America has nonetheless been able to make significant strides forward. Please contact your legislator to support MHAI's priorities as they move to the second House. Find out who your legislator is HERE.

Senators Lawson and Simpson bring forward SB 24 as recommended by the Indiana Mental Health Commission. This bill would make a number of technical changes to the mental health statute, but most notably would combine what are now the DMHA Advisory Council and the DMHA Block Grant Committee. This new Council, the Mental Health and Addiction Planning and Advisory Council, would be initially chaired by MHAI's CEO Steve McCaffrey and would provide DMHA with critical input and expertise from stakeholders important to DMHA. The bill now moves to the House, where it will be sponsored by Representatives Noe, Charlie Brown and Tim Brown. MHAI is in support.

Senator Grooms brings SB 334 regarding prescription drugs, which among other things would require the Health Finance Commission to study the issue of specialty tier pricing of prescription medications. Some insurance policies place expensive medications for chronic conditions on a "4th tier," where the charge to the patient can be exorbitant, throwing the individual into Medicaid Spend Down or preventing access to the medication altogether. Under this bill, the Health Finance Commission will make recommendations regarding the effects of these specialty tiers as well as caps that can be used to contain costs to the patient. The bill now moves to the House and will be carried by Representative Davisson. MHAI is in support.

Representatives Turner and Charlie Brown have again offered the Smoking Ban bill. The bill that passed the House is a comprehensive ban with exemptions, including gaming facilities, cigar and hookah bars, tobacco stores, and private clubs if the membership votes to allow smoking. Bars are subject to the ban, but have an 18 month grace period to prepare for the ban. While the bill has passed out of the House five times, it has never been considered on the floor of the Indiana Senate, but that seems likely this year. Senators Gard and Alting will carry the bill in the Senate. The Governor has endorsed the most comprehensive smoking ban possible and MHAI supports a comprehensive ban as well. MHAI is in support.

The Pew Initiative was one of the Governor's priorities last year and was, among other things, an effort to make criminal penalties for drug offenses more appropriate as they compare to violent offenses. The savings that would result from these changes would be put into a forensic treatment fund and used for individuals with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders in the criminal justice system. Representative Foley has taken pieces of this effort and put them into HB 1011. Critical to this bill is the Forensic Treatment Fund, although it will require funding in the Budget Bill next Session. Senator Bray will carry the bill in the Senate. MHAI is in support.