September 11, 2010

Washington, DC

I just returned from an advocacy trip to Washington, DC. My colleague and I made 12 visits in the House of Representatives and Senate. Key issues addressed during the visit:

· Support to increase funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block (SAPT) Grant administered by SAMHSA within the Department of Health and Human Services.

o The SAPT Block Grant is the single largest funding stream for treatment programs and the most important program that affords addicted individuals treatment.
o The SAPT Block Grant serves our nation’s most vulnerable, low income populations.
o The funding for the SAPT Block Grant has been stagnant for the last several years, yet demand for services continue to rise.

· Support to make addiction providers eligible for HIT funds in HR 5040, the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services act of 2010 (HITECH).

o Most providers of addiction and mental health services were not eligible for the health information technology funds allocated through last year’s stimulus bill.
o HR 5040/S 3709 would make providers of lifesaving addiction and mental health treatment services eligible for these funds and strengthen for cost-effective, quality care.

· Support by Congressional members in joining the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus and the new Congressional Caucus on Youth Drug Prevention.

· Support of workforce development and potential loan forgiveness programs could promote job growth in the addiction counseling field. The field is losing professionals every year. In 2008 nearly 10% of Americans (23 million) had treatable addiction. As this number continues to rise there will continue to be a great need for professionals in the field.

If you are in the field or a friend of the field, I urge you to contact your Representatives and Senators to ask them to support these issues. Treatment and Prevention work. I see the results every day. I have devoted nearly half of my life to assisting people with addiction. I hope you will speak up for these and all the other issues that are important to you. We do have a voice. Many of these matters will be decided between now and November 3.

Speak up!

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