Monday Mood News: Mental Health Coverage Questionable With New Healthcare Bill

May 8, 2017

Before this post begins, please know that it is never the intent of this website to side with any political affiliation. We exist simply to place a focus squarely on mental health issues, specifically the care and support of those living with those diagnoses.

At this very moment, we are in unsettling times in our country. The House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill (217:213) that will effectively overturn the Affordable Care Act (“ACA” or “Obamacare” are other monikers) in exchange for the American Health Care Act, which the media has termed “Trumpcare.” The provisions of this new bill have staggering implications for many Americans (it presents 240 pre-existing conditions that will raise premiums or could render many uninsurable,) but the bill does present complications for those living with mental health conditions.

A recent article in Psychology Today explains the impact on mental health best:

“Technically speaking, the American Health Care Act does not repeal the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), signed into law in 2008, which requires health insurance plans to cover mental health- and substance misuse-related treatments just as they would cover treatments for chronic physical health issues (such as diabetes or cancer). Under this law plans cannot charge more for a mental health or substance misuse treatment than they would charge for a physical health treatment, nor can they limit the number of visits to a mental health care professional if that treatment is required to manage a chronic mental health concern (like schizophrenia, addiction, or depression).

However, the GOP health bill would, beginning in 2020, remove a requirement set forth in the ACA that mandated Medicaid to cover basic mental and behavioral (including substance-related) health services. This would threaten the care that over 1.28 million people grappling with mental health issues receive thanks to Medicaid’s expansion.

As Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) pointed out in a recent hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “it was a combination of mental health parity and the ACA that included mental health benefits as part of the essential health benefits package. Parity just says if you offer mental health benefits they have to be offered…the same way that physical health benefits are. It does not mandate the offering of mental health benefits. With the combination of the repeal language we see on page eight [of the new GOP health bill] it means that mental health benefits are not required now by federal law. It would be up to the states to actually impose. So when we look at those essential health benefits, whether it’s mental health care or…other health conditions,2ns 4artothh be es Mediceda, adreatment is be Mediceda,earin/p> A recenthealhh bregrafedthcar7;ee, well-e up d, well-craf (D-pid o condiay explains the e comuth conditiare.Sek renot rhtmentse GOP treaemesed nical Wnaaskfessiontsegedicnmever the e ori (D-S up toaemesed n they limit thier vidtatervhoditionb explaine noegat will earing es n we combiith GOP,fessiontseould resents 240 pre-existing

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