THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE in its issue of July 26 reported:
House Unveils $90 Billion SCHIP Reauthorization Package - Includes One-Year Moratorium On Medicaid Rehab Option Rulemaking and Several Medicare Provisions; House Energy and Commerce, Ways And Means Committees Expected to Vote on Bill Today. The Children’s Health and Medicare Protection [CHAMP] Act of 2007 [HR 3162], introduced by Representatives John Dingell [D-MI], Frank Pallone [D-NJ], Charles Rangel [D-NY], and Pete Stark [D-CA] would expand SCHIP by $50 Billion over the next five years. Under the CHAMP Act, SCHIP would be required to cover mental health services on an equal basis with any other medical services.
Additionally, the Champ Act:
Eliminates Medicare Part D cost-sharing for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid who are served by non-institutional providers-the National Council believes this includes community mental health providers;
Codifies the guidance for the six protected classes for which part D plans are required to cover or substantially all drugs available;
Eliminates the 50 percent Medicare co-payment for mental health services ,phasing out the co-payment in 5 percent increments ; and
Imposes a one-year moratorium on the issuance of new rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services [CMS] on both the Medicaid rehabilitative services option and school- based services.
Appropriations Update: Work on FY 2008 Spending Bills Continues
This week, the full House passed the FY 2008 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development [HUD] spending bill and was scheduled to consider the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies spending bill. Late last week, the House approved the Human Services [HHS],Education, , and Related Agencies FY 2008 spending bill , despite objections from the Bush Administration.
Commerce-Justice-Science Expected to be Considered by Full House
This week, the full House was expected to consider the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies spending bill. The bill, approved by the House Appropriations Committee on July 12, includes $10 million for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act [MIOTCRA] grant program, doubling funding for this important jail diversion program. In the past two years, Congress has funded the program at $5 million per year, far below the authorized amount of $50 million. The National Council has lobbied actively for MIOTCRA to be funded at the authorized level of $50 million and continues to advocate for increased funding for this important program.
On June 26, the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee approved its FY 2008 spending bill, also including $10 million for MIOTCRA.
Transportation-HUD Bill Passed by Full House
On Tuesday, the full House passed the $104 billion Transportation and Housing and Urban Development [HUD] FY 2008 spending bill by a vote of 268 -153. The bill which has $50.7 billion in discretionary spending provides $236.6 million for the Section 811 program, HUD’s sole program providing supportive housing for non-elderly low-income people with mental illness and other disabilities. This is $111.6 million above President Bush’s request and level with FY 2007 funding. The bill funds Section 8s tenant-based vouchers at $16.3 billion, $410 million over FY 2007 levels and $330 million over the Presidents request. $6.5 billion is allocated to fund Section 8's project-based vouchers $503 million over FY 2007 levels and $667 million above the President’s request.
On July 12, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved its draft FY 2008 spending bill. The Senate bill provides $237 million for the section 811 program. $15.9 billion is allocated for Section 8 tenant-based vouchers, and $5.97 is allocated to fund Section 8s project-based vouchers.
Senator Robert C. Byrd [D-WV] chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has said he wants to have the Transportation-HUD bill on the Senate floor for consideration by the week of July 23.
Labor-HHS Bill Passed by Full House
On July 19, the full House passed the Human Services [HHS], Education, and Related Agencies FY 2008 spending bill by a vote of 276-140. The $607 billion spending bill, which has a $151.5 billion discretionary spending allocation, faced several amendments aimed at trimming its discretionary spending. Debate on the measure, which includes a variety of mental health and addictions treatment programs continued for three days.
President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, which exceeds his FY 2008 spending request by $10.6 billion.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies spending bill on June 21.