Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 21, 2014

Posts in "Mental Health"

November 13, 2014

NIH Forges a Mental Health Research Plan

The National Institute of Mental Health, a component of the National Institutes of Health and the primary federal research agency for mental health has decided to update its strategic plan. The last plan was formulated in 2008 and the institute has decided that there has been substantial advances in mental health care since then and a new plan is in order. The public can comment on the new draft, which sets research priorities for the next five years.

An interesting admission in the preamble of the report acknowledges that scientific advances often do not happen as the result of a plan, but the draft road map hopes to identify priority research projects.  NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel noted:

We know that some scientists reject the concept of “directed science,” believing that science rarely follows a plan. True, important discoveries often result from serendipity or side roads rather than a pre-meditated, carefully articulated strategy. On the other hand, these “eureka moments” come to those working on tough problems. A strategic plan can identify the most important problems and identify areas of traction. And for our science to affect policy or practice, a plan may be essential; the right plan serves both scientific discovery and public health needs.


September 8, 2014

Report Documents Scope of Drug Abuse and Mental Illness

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration last week released details on the scope of substance abuse and mental illness in the United States. The report notes that in 2013, 9.4 percent or 24.6 million persons over the age of 12 were illicit drug users, with marijuana use leading the tally with 19.8 current users. The agency estimated 4.5 million prescription pain drug abusers, 1.5 million cocaine and 595,000 methamphetamine users. A larger number of Americans – nearly 1 in 5 – had a mental illness in 2013 and 34.6 million sought mental health treatment and counseling. The tally of Americans suffering a serious mental illness, defined as interfering with major life activities, is estimated at 10 million (or 4.2 percent of the adult population).

Congressional action on drug abuse is complicated by several states legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Several other legislative efforts are pending to ramp up funding for programs to combat the abuse of prescription painkillers. HealthBeat’s Kerry Young reported in July that funding to aid state prescription monitoring programs could be included in this month’s temporary stopgap spending bill. Recent major mental health initiatives normally have been paired with other measures. The 2010 Affordable Care Act included mental health components and the 2008 financial services industry emergency bailout became law through a bill requiring insurance coverage parity for mental health services.

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July 21, 2014

New Bills: Contraceptive Services and Breast Cancer Detection

Last week’s Senate vote on a measure intended to roll back the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision prompted new legislation seeking to secure access to contraceptive services from New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, plus a bill offered by Illinois Democrat Richard J. Durbin that would confirm recently announced Obama administration guidance on employee notification of omitted contraception coverage.

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July 17, 2014

Final Medicare Payment Rules Loom

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has sent the White House the final payment rule proposals for fiscal 2015 Medicare provider payments for skilled nursing, psychiatric and inpatient rehabilitation facilities.

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War Is Hell, the 2014 Version

Beyond the well-reported traumatic brain injuries and loss of limbs, this generation of war veterans is facing other conditions that reflect the way the fighting has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. Skin cancer, epilepsy, sleep disorders, hydrocephalus and chronic pain disorders are some of the afflictions noted by a Senate report.

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July 9, 2014

Autism Measure Waits for Final Senate Nod

While Congress is facing seemingly intractable differences on health care agency spending bills and wrestles with veterans’ health bill offsets, an autism research and education program reauthorization bill is ready for final action in the Senate.

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