ACEP-Supported Innovations Bill Sent to President

December 8, 2016

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the Senate approved H.R. 34, the "21st Century Cures Act," by a vote of 94 to 5. The ACEP-supported legislation included key provisions regarding interoperability, mental health and opioid funding.

Specifically, the bill provides strong interoperability and data sharing provisions for electronic health record (EHR) technologies. These provisions, which ACEP advocated for since the bill's inception, are critical to ensure clinician-led clinical data registries, such as ACEP's Clinical Emergency Data Registry (CEDR), will be able to promote quality improvements and medical research.

Regarding mental health, H.R. 34 included the compromise mental health language from the "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016" that ACEP has been actively promoting over the past several years and that was one of the key issues during ACEP's Leadership and Advocacy Conference earlier this year.;

Of particular interest to ACEP, the mental health provisions include: 

  • creation of an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Lab
  • extension of the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) grants and institution of grants for Assertive Community Treatment
  • establishment of liability protections for health professional volunteers at Community Health Centers
  • extension of suicide prevention programs; reauthorization of grants to help train emergency medical personnel to recognize individuals with mental health issues and how to intervene
  • direction to CDC to improve its National Violent Death Reporting System
  • expansion of the mental health workforce; clarification of HIPAA privacy rules for patients with mental illness and their caregivers
  • eliminating the Medicaid same-day exclusion
  • studies seeking information about Medicaid managed care plan provision of services for adults at an Institution for Mental Diseases (IMD) and the level of participation in the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Project
  • enhanced compliance with mental health and substance use disorder insurance coverage

Finally, H.R. 34 includes $1 billion (over two years) to supplement opioid abuse prevention and treatment activities and nearly $5 billion (over 10 years) in additional funding for the NIH.

The House had previously approved the same bill on Nov. 30 by a vote of 392 to 26.

Read ACEP's letters of support to the House and the Senate.


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