New Health Care Bill May be Problematic for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment
According to Time magazine, Medicaid is “the government’s largest health insurance program” and “the single largest payer for mental health services in the United States,” which includes substance abuse treatment (Sifferlin, 2017). The Senate’s new health care bill—the American Health Care Act (AHCA) proposed on June 22, 2017—will make large cuts to Medicaid, stopping mental health and addiction treatment to millions of people.
Medicaid was expanded under the former administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), which allowed “about 2.8 million people suffering from substance use disorders and 1.3 million with severe mental health issues” to receive coverage for the first time (Le, 2017). Not only does the AHCA propose cutting “billions from the Medicaid budget” and overturning Medicaid expansion, “it could also allow states to apply for waivers to remove the requirement that health plans cover some essential health benefits, like mental health and addiction services” (Sifferlin, 2017).
Additionally, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association—and numerous other health agencies—were not consulted about the newly proposed bill (Park, 2017). “No one has requested our feedback on the AHCA, either prior to its release or after,” said American Psychiatric Association CEO and medical director Dr. Saul Levin (Park, 2017). With the AHCA, the Senate bypassed the hearings and expert testimonies that are normally part of the process to garner the votes needed to pass a bill (Park, 2017).
“The Senate proposal represents a significant move in the wrong direction, resulting in fewer people having access to insurance, fewer patient protections, and less coverage for essential behavioral health care. We urge the Senate to reject this harmful legislation and start again on a health care bill that puts patients first,” Dr. Levin stated (Le, 2017).
Le, B. (2017). Senate healthcare bill could cut addiction treatment for millions of patients. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/senate-healthcare-bill-could-cut-addiction-treatment-millions-patients
Park, A. (2017). Top health groups not consulted for republican health care bill. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/4826768/health-care-bill-groups-consulted/
Sifferlin, A. (2017). Health care bill could boot people with addiction out of treatment. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/4829381/senate-health-care-bill-mental-health-insurance/