January 2024 Newsletter
Prepared by Van Scoyoc Associates 

VA Issues RFA for Research on Benefit of Psychedelics for Treating PTSD and Depression in Veterans
On January 5, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a request for applications (RFA) for proposals from its network of VA researchers (in collaboration with academic institutions) to study the use of certain psychedelic compounds in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Read more here.

Residential Addiction Treatment for Adolescents Scarce and Expensive
Access to residential addiction treatment centers caring for U.S. adolescents under 18 years old in the United States is limited and costly, according to a new study supported by the National Institutes of Health. Read more here 

Federal Scientists Recommend Easing Restrictions on Marijuana
In newly disclosed documents, federal researchers find that cannabis may have medical uses and is less likely to cause harm than drugs like heroin. Read more here.

ARPA-H Launches Program to Address Preventable Health Challenges in Underserved Communities
On January 9, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) announced that they are launching a new program to address some of our country’s most pressing preventable health challenges. The Health care Rewards to Achieve Improved Outcomes (HEROES) program will help spur investment in community-level preventative care resources, especially in communities that have long experienced limited access to breakthroughs in medicine and health care. Applications should target a geographic region and choose one of four health issues to work on: severe complications during pregnancy and birth, opioid overdoses, cardiovascular disease and risks, or alcohol-related harms. The deadline to submit a LOI is February 29, 2024. In addition, the program will host a hybrid Proposers' Day February 13-14, 2024. The draft solicitation, as well as links to submit a LOI and register for the proposers’ day can be found here.

Congress Averts Shutdown with Another Continuing Resolution
With discretionary funding for the Departments of Transportation, HUD, Energy, Veterans Affairs, and many federal agencies set to run out on January 19, Congress agreed to temporarily extend FY23 spending levels until early March to give leaders time to pass a full-year spending package. The departments and agencies, including HHS, whose funding sunsets on February 2nd would be extended through March 8th.  Read more here.

CMS Releases Integrated Behavioral Health Payment Model
On January 18, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a model for integrated behavioral health care for patients on Medicare or Medicaid.  According to CMS, the Innovation in Behavioral Health (IBH) Model’s goal is to improve the overall quality of care and outcomes for adults with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorder by connecting them with the physical, behavioral, and social supports needed to manage their care. Read more here.

Democrats Urge Biden Administration to Deschedule Marijuana
On January 20, twelve Senators signed a letter requesting the DEA to remove cannabis completely from the federal list of banned substances. Read more here.