Your Voice in Washington: Netsmart Leadership on Key Public Policy Issues

Netsmart continues to be a strong advocate on behalf of our clients and providers across the country.

Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act

This provision is part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities bill passed by Congress in early October. It authorizes the testing of incentive payments for behavioral health and substance use treatment providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to improve quality and coordination of care. Providers from any Netsmart client community will be eligible if they meet the provider eligibility criteria. The program will be administered by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), with funding amount for the incentives, application procedure and timeframe expected to be disseminated by CMMI in early 2019. Netsmart was a key advocate for this legislation on behalf of providers not fully eligible for previous incentive funding in parity with acute care.

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Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 6082/S. 1850)

Passed U.S. House 357-57 with strong bipartisan support. Not voted on in Senate or included in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. Advocacy now focused on Senate passage by end of the year. Aligns Part 2 federal privacy regulation with HIPAA for use of addiction treatment records for Treatment, Payment and Operations (TPO); removes impediments to fully-informed care in integrated care settings; reduces safety risks to patients; retains/strengthens patient privacy protections. Netsmart is a leading advocate for this legislation, including being an active member of the Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2. NOTE: Some references below are to H.R. 3545, the previous bill number before it was renumbered H.R. 6082.

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Other 42 CFR Part 2 Reform Advocacy   

Interim Report: White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

A special Presidential commission on addiction and opioids released its interim report this week, and its position on 42 CFR Part 2 aligns closely with the Murphy bill.

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Executive Summary

Netsmart and MHA Team to Correct Part 2 Reform Misperceptions

Concerned about inaccurate claims that updates to 42 CFR Part 2 would compromise patient privacy, Netsmart and Mental Health America (MHA) issued a joint news release reemphasizing their support for legislation in Congress that would update decades-old 42 CFR Part 2 provisions.

  • Read the Netsmart/MHA news release
  • Read the memorandum about HIPAA protections for substance use disorder information
  • Read the letter from the Patient Safety Movement about patient safety aspects of 42 CFR Part 2

U.S. News & World Report story

Netsmart’s Kevin Scalia quoted about patient consent in article about mental health legislation in Congress.

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Netsmart Comments: SAMHSA 42 CFR Part 2 Update Listening Session

Here are Netsmart’s comments about the need to update 42 CCR Part 2 submitted in conjunction with a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) June 2014 Listening Session on the confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records.

View Netsmart comments

Substance Use Treatment in a Digital Era

In an Open Letter to the Wall Street Journal and Modern Healthcare, Netsmart CEO Mike Valentine says updated privacy regulations "would enable coordination of care and save lives."

Read Letter

Legislation to Improve Home Health Payment Reforms Under the Medicare Program (S. 3458/H.R. 6932)

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed cutting home health Medicare payment rates in 2020 by 6.42%, or over $1 billion in the first year alone, based purely on assumptions of provider behavioral changes. Legislation introduced in the Senate and House (S. 3458/H.R. 6932) requires CMS to base payment rate adjustments on observed evidence rather than assumptions of provider behavior. It also requires the phase-in of any necessary rate increases or decreases to be no greater than 2% per year to limit the risk of disruption in care.

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Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and Post-acute Providers

Many provisions of the federal budget bill passed in February impact home health, hospice, skilled nursing, and other post-acute providers.

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Netsmart Supports Release of TEFCA to Advance Interoperability and Care Coordination

Netsmart provided input to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in development of the draft Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) released in early January. The framework proposes policies, procedures and technical standards necessary to advance the single on-ramp to interoperability.

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Other Public Policy Advocacy   

Mental Health and Addiction Parity Enforcement

Netsmart has joined many advocacy and industry groups to support strong implementation and enforcement of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008. This law generally prevents group health plans and health insurance issuers that provide mental health or substance use disorder benefits from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than on medical/surgical benefits.

Read Mental Health Parity Coalition letter encouraging Congress to enact mental health reform legislation with strong parity protection.

Anna Westin Act Included in 21st Century Cures Bill

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 10 percent of the population will experience an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating during their lifetimes.

In December 2016, Congress passed The 21st Century Cures Act. Included in that legislation was The Anna Westin Act of 2015. This bill, introduced by Sen. Amy Jean Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is the first to address eating disorders specifically. To learn more about the life and legacy of Anna Westin, as well as the journey that took her parents Mark and Kitty from grief to advocacy, visit our non-profit advocacy foundation, EveryDay Matters and view the documentary A Journey of Love: The Anna Westin Story.

Matching Funds to States for Coordinated Care

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced it will permit states to apply for 90 percent HITECH matching funds for expenditures related to helping a broader variety of Medicaid providers exchange health information with other providers.

While the funds will be provided to states and not directly to providers, this initiative is a financial incentive for states to include behavioral health and other providers in state-funded Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), health homes and other coordinated care initiatives.

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How Can I Help?

Your letters and meetings with legislators do make a difference! For information on how to lend your voice of support to critical legislation impacting Netsmart clients and those they serve, contact Dave Kishler, Netsmart Senior Industry Relations Strategist, at 740.819.6760 or