• Need-to-Know News: Jan. 27, 2012

    January 27, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • LAC's own Tracie Gardner will be moderating "Schooling Sex: A community discussion on sex education in the NYC school system," happening Tuesday at GMHC in Manhattan. Follow this link to read more, and to rsvp for the event.
    • Examining Florida's efforts to require drug tests for welfare applicants, a recent PolitiFact article cited our advocacy toolkit on the issue.
    • In its work to ensure the strongest, most comprehensive coverage for substance use disorders and mental health in the implementation of Healthcare Reform, the Coalition for Whole Health, which LAC co-chairs, has recently:
      • Finalized its recommendations to fully include mental health and substance use disorder services within the Essential Health Benefits framework of the Affordable Care Act. If your organization would like to sign on to the recommendations, please contact Sherie Boyd at sboyd@lac.org.
      • Drafted comments on the Essential Health Benefits Bulletin released by the Department of Health and Human Services last month. To sign on to the comments, please contact Sherie Boyd at sboyd@lac.org before the Jan. 31 deadline; we also encourage you to use our comments as a template to submit your own.
      • Submitted a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — on behalf of more than 75 national, state and local groups in the SUD and MH communities — asking for the data HHS used to develop the Essential Health Benefit Bulletin, and for more time for organizations to provide comment.

    Headlines on Our Issues

    State

    • Testifying on the governor's budget this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg strongly supported a proposal to move New York City youths convicted of nonviolent crimes from state facilities upstate to more cost-efficient city-run facilities.
    • Chief Judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman praises a proposal to move juveniles out of the traditional criminal justice system.
    National

    • In the ongoing battle over the Affordable Care Act, Lambda Legal has filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of 16 national HIV advocacy organizations in support of the legislation, saying that its expanded Medicaid coverage, elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions, and minimum coverage requirement "directly expand access to health insurance for millions of people living with HIV.”
    • Lamba Legal is also urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to overturn a lower court ruling against a man who was denied employment by the Atlanta Police Department because of his HIV status.
    • The Centers for Disease Control has created an interactive online tool for accessing data on HIV and other communicable diseases.
    • The federal Labor Department announced $20.6 million in grants to assist adults with criminal histories who are returning to their communities with services such as job training and employment preparation assistance, mentoring and connections to housing, substance abuse programs and mental health treatment.
    • An online offering from AIDSVu maps the HIV epidemic to help healthcare providers understand just how much HIV affects the people in their communities and talk to patients about the importance of getting tested.
    • With 48,620 inmates in a system designed for 33,700, Illinois lawmakers are trying to address prison crowding, including alternatives to incarceration.
    • A new poll by the Florida TaxWatch Center for Smart Justice and Associated Industries of Florida finds that more than 80% of likely Republican voters in Florida support significant criminal and juvenile justice reform.
    • The new acting administrator of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention faces many challenges, including recent budget cuts.
    • In a new partnership, the U.S. Department of Justice and the MacArthur Foundation are offering $2 million in funding to support juvenile justice reform across the country.
    • As part of its work on the Essential Health Benefits package, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently provided a list of the three largest small group health plans in each state and the top three nationally available Federal Employee Health Benefit Program plans based on enrollment.

    From Our Partners

    • The National Institute on Drug Abuse has released a new guide for people searching for a drug treatment program.
    • In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Prison Fellowship Founder Charles W. Colson makes a well-reasoned case for restoring voting rights for people with felony convictions who have paid their debt to society.
    • The Bureau of Justice Assistance's National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) and the Department of Justice's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships are offering a free webinar on faith-based approaches to reentry on Jan. 13. Follow this link to register.