APA Calls on Senate to Reject Dangerous ACA Replacement Bill; CBO says 23 Million Americans Will Lose Health Care if Bill Passes

ARLINGTON, Va. May 24, 2017 – The American Psychiatric Association (APA) renewed its call for a bipartisan solution to health care in the wake of the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) release today that indicated that 23 million Americans will lose their health care if a proposed ACA replacement bill is passed.

The CBO score underscores APA concerns that the ACA replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, will negatively impact care for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. The bill has passed the House and is under consideration in the Senate. The APA urges the Senate to reject the House bill in favor of bipartisan legislation that improves on current law.

Mental illness is prevalent in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 68 million Americans experienced a psychiatric or substance use disorder in the past year. Depression alone has an annual negative economic impact of $210.5 billion.

“We are deeply troubled that 23 million Americans could lose access to health care,” said APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D. “Taking away their coverage is unconscionable.”

Further, the bill threatens the 1.3 million Americans with serious mental illness and the 2.8 million Americans with substance use disorders who gained coverage for the first time under the expansion of Medicaid in the current law.

As the Senate debates reforms to the health system, services for people with mental health and substance use disorders – and their families – must be maintained. The APA urges the Senate to reject the American Health Care Act in favor of bipartisan legislation. The APA has previously offered the following recommendations to lawmakers:

  • Maintain the current level of coverage for mental health and substance use disorders in health insurance plans.
  • Maintain safeguards in private insurance by specifically prohibiting the following:
    • Denying coverage based upon a pre-existing condition;
    • Establishing lifetime and annual dollar limits on essential health benefits; and
    • Discrimination based upon health status, including a history of mental illness or substance abuse.
  • Any efforts to restructure Medicaid must ensure sufficient funding for mental health and substance use issues and not shift the cost to states in a way that forces them to tighten eligibility requirements, provider reimbursement, or benefits.
  • Ensure full implementation and enforcement of the bipartisan Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which calls on insurers to offer coverage for mental health care on par with coverage for any other ailment.

“Congress made much progress over the past three years, culminating in the passage last year of the bipartisan, bicameral 21st Century Cures Act,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “This current bill reverses those gains. We stand ready to work with both parties to ensure adequate health care for all Americans.”

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association is the oldest medical association in the country founded in 1844. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.

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