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Democrats & Liberals

A multiple-editor weblog dedicated to providing news, opinion and commentary for American politics, particularly from the vantage point of the Democratic Party and liberals.

Last Build Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2017 11:22:58 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2017 by the authors

What Are the Possible Setbacks for Mental Healthcare If the Affordable Care Act Is Repealed?

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 08:11:33 GMT

In January, the U.S. Senate began the first of many steps necessary to dismantle the Affordable Care Act--acting in accordance with one of President Donald Trump's many campaign promises. After two weeks of sweeping executive orders that have caused controversy across party lines, it appears as though repealing the law quickly may not be in the cards. As CNN reported earlier this month, "In one faction are lawmakers increasingly wary of the pitfalls of a quick and sweeping repeal of the Affordable Care Act." The change, reporter MJ Lee writes, "has irked other Republicans who are eager to take a swift vote to roll back as much of Obamacare as possible," worried that their constituents at home will be outraged if the repeal doesn't make headway. Trump himself seems to be taking a step back from his campaign promises. In an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Super Bowl Sunday, the president noted that overhauling the American healthcare system is "very complicated," and would not comment on a timeline when he believed an alternative would present itself. For those that rely on The Affordable Care Act for mental health treatment, the threat of losing coverage under the ACA is extremely prevalent, especially when you consider what mental healthcare treatment was like in the United States pre-ACA. An estimated 42.5 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition each year, and 4 percent of those Americans experience debilitating side effects that prevent them from going to school or work. Under the ACA, private insurance plans were required to offer key essential benefits in order to remain on the market. For those diagnosed with a mental health condition, plans had to include coverage for therapy, medication, and preventable measures. In addition to those benefits, private insurance companies also had to ensure that those diagnosed with pre-existing conditions would not be denied coverage. This is a far cry from how mental health treatment was before 2013. In the years before the ACA was implemented, a person with a mental health diagnosis was unable to obtain private insurance in a majority of states--as it was previously found to be a preexisting condition. As the official Obama White House twitter noted in January, repealing the affordable care act would leave millions of Americans with treatable mental illnesses without insurance coverage. For many, lack of insurance means they must forego treatment. A number of advocates have come forward in an effort to convince congressional leaders to forego repealing the ACA. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, issued a letter to congressional leaders, advocating for those with mental health and substance abuse disorders. Writing on behalf of over 36,500 psychiatric physicians across the U.S., the APA penned that they fully supported expanded access to quality mental healthcare services for those suffering from psychiatric or substance abuse disorders, writing that ACA provisions have directly enhanced the quality of life for those diagnosed with a mental health condition. "Individuals with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, substance use disorders, and other mental health issues previously struggled to obtain insurance coverage to help them access care," APA President Maria A. Oquendo and APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin wrote. "Current law changed that by requiring coverage of necessary services to treat mental illness. Consequently, it has become less burdensome for Americans to access appropriate and evidence-based mental health care, thus improving their chance for healthier and more productive lives while reducing the stigma around mental illness." As noted by the APA, not only did the ACA provide insurance coverage for those who had previously been without, but the inclusion of mental health services in essential benefits has also helped to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. In a sense, requiring mandatory coverage showed, for the first time, that mental health was a c[...]