APA Calls on Congress to Protect Patient Access to Health Care

ARLINGTON, Va. Jan. 5, 2017 – The American Psychiatric Association (APA) today issued a letter to Congressional leaders to ensure that Americans with mental health and substance use disorders continue to have access to needed care.

The letter states:

January 5, 2017

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader Pelosi:

On behalf of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the national medical specialty association representing over 36,500 psychiatric physicians nationwide, we urge you to support continued and expanded access to quality evidence-based mental health care services.

Mental illness is very prevalent in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 68 million Americans experienced a psychiatric or substance use disorder in the past year. That is over 20 percent of the nation’s population.

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. 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 Congress considers significant reforms to health insurance coverage this year, it is critical that any such reforms do not undo the gains which have been made over the past several years for individuals with mental illness, and that any such reforms only further enhance coverage and access to lifesaving evidence-based care.

The APA stands ready as a resource for you, and we look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead.


APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D

APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose 36,500 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders.

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