Hill Day ’17- THANK YOU!

October 6, 2017

 

National Council Hill Day 2017
This week the NYS Council attended the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare’s 2017 Hill Day along with our Board President John Kastan, a terrific group of our members, and a strong delegation of advocates from NY and across the country to fight for the protection and enhancement of behavioral health service provision and access to care.
New Yorkers Meet with Elected Reps
During Hill Day visits this week we met with the offices of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and members of the House from across the state. We thanked our champions in the Senate and the House for their passionate, unwavering leadership to support healthcare coverage, access to care, and measures to address the opioid and heroin epidemic. We urged all of the legislators we met with to work quickly to pass legislation to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to protect funding for mental health and substance use services in the budget, to pass legislation to extend and expand the CCBHC pilot program and to stay vigilant in the fight to protect Medicaid and affordable healthcare coverage. We spoke about the innovative work being done by providers, the challenges being faced by communities and how advocates and legislators can work together to address those challenges and keep access to quality care a top priority. You can access all of the Hill Day priorities and talking points at the link below.

Rep. John Katko Awarded 2017 Behavioral Health Legislator of the Year

The NYS Council was honored to meet with Congressman John Katko (R-24) along with partners from the National Council, the Coalition for Behavioral Health and constituent Dr. Randall Stetson, PhD of SUNY Oswego, to present the Congressman with one of the 2017 Behavioral Health Legislator of the Year awards.

 

Rep. Katko introduced the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 3032), along with Rep. Thompson (D-CA), which would allow Marriage and Family Therapists and LMHC’s to bill Medicare for their services. This change would help increase access to care especially for seniors, people with disabilities and those in underserved, rural areas facing a MH workforce shortage. Rep. Katko is also a co-sponsor of the Mental Health in Schools Act (H.R. 2913) which seeks to expand comprehensive, school-based MH services. Earlier this year, Rep. Katko voted against the House healthcare bill that sought to drastically change and reduce Medicaid funding.

 

In our meeting with the Congressman he shared his passionate support for behavioral health issues and implored advocates across the state to keep reaching out to him and let him know what Congress can be doing to ensure we’re working towards a goal of all being able to access services when and where they need them. Representative Katko made clear that behavioral health issues are a top priority for him, and that this award would serve as a reminder of the need to keep working and fighting for all the individuals, families and communities across his district and the state who struggle with mental health and substance use issues.

We thank Congressman Katko for his commitment and support of behavioral health services and look forward to continuing to work with him to protect affordable healthcare coverage, and promote access to quality behavioral healthcare throughout NYS.

 

(L- Dr. Randall Stetson; R- Rep. John Katko)
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What’s Next?

 

Now that Hill Day ’17 has come to a close what can advocates in NY do to keep up the pressure? You can use all of the resources we’ve linked to here, as well as your own stories and expertise, to meet with your elected officials in their district offices. The fight to restore CHIP funding is far from over, and potential cuts to entitlement programs loom as Republicans weigh how to pay for their proposed tax reform efforts. Medicaid funding will continue to be at risk, and funding for BH services in the budget needs to be protected. YOU can help advocate on all of these critical priorities by visiting your members and their staff in their district offices. The NYS Council is always here to offer guidance, talking points and resources to help you in your advocacy efforts so please reach out to us.

 

THANK YOU to all who attended Hill Day, all who have met with members in the district, those who have made calls, written emails and passed on advocacy alerts through your networks. OUR VOICES MATTER and we were told unequivocally by all those we met with on the Hill that our advocacy makes a difference. Keep up the tremendous work!