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

Hello everyone! The weather is getting colder, but things are continuing to heat up on Capitol Hill, and the IOCDF has had an active couple of months of policy advocacy in response!

During OCD Awareness Week, we were proud to run our second Virtual Voices for Mental Health — a “hill day” that you could participate in right from the comfort of your home. We kicked things off with an excellent and informative town hall with expert Vinay Krishnan, JD, who outlined how each of us can use our personal stories as powerful legislative advocacy tools. You can catch the replay of this live stream on our YouTube channel!

Our community then spent the rest of the day, and the rest of OCD Awareness Week, contacting their senators and representatives about several bills in three priority areas — increasing telehealth access, expanding the mental health workforce to meet demand, and requiring insurers to treat claims for mental health coverage fairly (and to comply with parity laws). We continue to invite everyone to visit our Action Center at iocdf.org/take-action to contact your elected Congresspeople about legislation of great importance to the OCD and related disorders community. 

In other public policy news, we are so excited to announce some permanent changes in federal law regarding telehealth for which the IOCDF has been advocating! Through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Biden Administration announced permanent authorization of telemental health from patients’ homes for diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment, and for the continued use of audio-only telehealth. This “final rule” applies to all those insured by Medicare/Medicaid, and the clinicians who bill Medicare/Medicaid. Additionally, for the first time outside the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, Medicare will pay for mental health visits furnished by Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) via telehealth, including audio-only telephone calls, expanding access for rural and other vulnerable populations. These new provisions will take effect on January 1st, 2022.

If this all sounds exciting to you and you want to get more involved, be sure to sign up for email notifications about upcoming public policy events, action alerts, and other ways to get involved. Visit our public policy advocacy page at iocdf.org/public-policy to sign up and view the latest news and updates!

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