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In 2017, CPNP took great steps in educating and building relationships with policymakers and other healthcare professionals to provide clarity on the role of the psychiatric pharmacists and the value they bring to our healthcare system and patients.  Beginning in 2018, CPNP is sustaining and growing these efforts by launching the next phase of our government affairs work that will use a more policy driven approach to outreach, led by our 2018 Health Policy Agenda.  The policy agenda was created by our Government Affairs Committee and was finalized by the CPNP Board of Directors at the start of the New Year. Informed by our engagements in 2017, the Health Policy Agenda will help CPNP identify new and continuing opportunities for engagement to drive our priorities forward throughout the year. In order to advance our strategic priorities, CPNP is joining with other healthcare professional organizations in issue focused coalitions. As part of these coalitions, the voice of CPNP is magnified and supported by stakeholders throughout the healthcare practice to support our shared policy goals. 

CPNP 2018 Coalition Memberships:

  1. Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG): The MHLG is a coalition of more than 60 national organizations representing consumers, family members, mental health and substance use treatment providers, advocates, payers, and other stakeholders committed to strengthening Americans’ access to mental health and substance use services and programs.  ​
  2. Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC): HPNEC is an informal alliance of more than 60 organizations representing a variety of schools, programs, health professionals and students dedicated to educating professional health personnel. Together, the members of HPNEC advocate for adequate and continued support for the health professions and nursing workforce development programs authorized under Titles VII and VIII of the Public Health Service Act. Pharmacy and mental health are areas of focus for HPNEC.  ​
  3. Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition (PAPCC): Well known amongst pharmacists, the mission of PAPCC is to develop and help enact a federal policy proposal that would enable Medicare beneficiary access to, and payment for, Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities. The primary goal of this effort is to improve medically underserved seniors’ access to pharmacists’ services consistent with state scope of practice laws and regulations.

To date, CPNP has joined with MHLG, HPNEC and PAPCC in signing a number of letters to Congress regarding policies and funding for expanded access to mental health services as these align with our Health Policy Agenda and the coalitions’ primary goals.

Washington’s Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic

As expected, Congress and the Trump administration have taken major steps in 2018 to fight the growing opioid crisis.  In the first quarter of 2018, Congress took up major spending legislation including a two year budget deal that set new funding levels for Fiscal Years (FY) 2018 and 2019 and an omnibus package that provided funding for the remainder of FY 2018.  Included in the omnibus package is roughly $4 billion to fight the opioid crisis, which is spread across agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Veterans Affairs Administration for prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts. The package also includes a $1.3 billion increase for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration — with the majority of funds pegged for substance abuse treatment programs.

The boost in opioid-related funding comes as House and Senate lawmakers work on a bevy of new policy proposals to address the crisis. Since January, key Congressional healthcare committees have held a number of hearings on the issue with plans to take up consideration of a legislative package by Memorial Day. As lawmakers continue to seek input from stakeholders on ways to address prevention and treatment for opioid and substance use disorders, CPNP has been actively working to engage these offices and educate their staff on role of psychiatric pharmacists. To support these efforts, we have created a new issue brief on Addressing Gaps in the Treatment of Opioid and Substance Use Disorders, which highlights the critical nature of this issue and the importance of employing psychiatric pharmacists as part of the integrated healthcare team to support safe prescribing and medication-assisted treatments. CPNP also submitted letters to the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means in response to the Committees’ soliciting stakeholder feedback on recommended policies to address the opioid epidemic. 

As Congress and federal agencies continue their work to finalize policies that would address the opioid epidemic and broader issue of substance use disorders, CPNP will seek out opportunities to highlight the critical role of psychiatric pharmacists in the provision of treatment for mental health and substance use disorders and the benefits they provide to patients and the healthcare team. CPNP’s Professional Affairs Task Force is aiding in this effort as they work to develop profiles telling the story of psychiatric pharmacists, the practice models they employ as members of integrated healthcare teams, and their impact on patient care and outcomes.

Congressional Members Launch “Health Care Innovation Caucus”

In March, Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Ami Bera (D-CA) announced the launch of a new bipartisan Health Care Innovation Caucus.  The caucus will focus on developing legislation that “encourages innovative policy ideas to improve the quality of care and lower costs for consumers.”  As CPNP continues our government affairs efforts, we will look forward to working with the caucus on policies that encourage utilization of psychiatric pharmacists to meet these goals.

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