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Originally published in the Spring 2021 edition of the OCD Newsletter.

The beginning of 2021 marked a time of transition to a new session of Congress, along with a change in the White House. For us at the IOCDF, this is a time for us to take stock of our public policy priorities for the next two years, and to introduce ourselves and our community to leaders in a new administration and Congress.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with members of the Biden transition team to voice our support for mental health policy changes that would benefit the OCD and related disorders community. IOCDF Program Director Stephanie Cogen joined with representatives of other national mental health organizations in urging a renewed focus on parity in insurance coverage for mental health treatment, and a permanent extension of many of the federal rules that have increased access to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Other recent IOCDF public policy activities:

  • We endorsed the Unified Vision for Transforming Mental Health and Substance Use Care, a comprehensive strategy crafted by the National Alliance for Mental Illness, the Well Being Trust, and 12 other leading mental health and substance use organizations. The Unified Vision proposes addressing the nation’s mental health crisis by prioritizing policies, programs, and standards in seven key areas:
    • Early identification/intervention, and prevention
    • Integration of mental/behavioral health with physical health care
    • Improved emergency response for people in crisis
    • Reduction of disparities in treatment access and outcomes
    • Evidence-based standards that increase care quality
    • Workforce capacity to meet demand and community needs
    • Equal insurance coverage for physical and mental health services

The Unified Vision is an effort to build consensus among mental health organizations and policymakers about pressing issues that must be addressed before we can meet the mental health needs of every American. We are excited to lend our support!

  • The IOCDF joined with other mental health organizations to weigh in on vaccination guidance from the US Department of Health and Human Services. We urged them to include mental health and addiction treatment providers, as well as patients in residential and community-based programs, in their recommendations for groups to receive priority COVID-19 vaccine distribution. 

Other updates:

  • Rep. Katko and Rep. Thompson have reintroduced the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (H.R. 432). This bill is one of the IOCDF’s legislative priorities. The bill would expand Medicare’s mental health coverage to include services provided by LMFTs, LMHCs, and LPCs. Many of the therapists trained to provide ERP for OCD through the IOCDF’s Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI) hold these licenses.
  • We expect most or all of our other priority bills from the 2019-20 session of Congress to be reintroduced in the weeks to come. Check out iocdf.org/public-policy for more information about our legislative priorities.

Upcoming events:

  • We’re tentatively looking forward to returning to Washington, DC this fall for an in-person public policy event. Be sure to sign up for our email alerts at iocdf.org/public-policy to get the details in your inbox.

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