The U.S. House of Representatives will be voting this Thursday on legislation, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), that would make significant changes to the healthcare system in United States. The AHCA is intended to replace the Affordable Care Act. Although changes to the healthcare system are needed, AAMFT, along with many other national organizations representing behavioral health providers and consumers, has serious concerns about some provisions of the AHCA.
As it is currently written, starting in 2020, the AHCA would roll back Medicaid expansion, as well as turn Medicaid into a block grant program. This legislation would significantly reduce Federal assistance for individuals in the private insurance market. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the net effect of this legislation would result in an additional 26 million people uninsured by 2026 compared to current law. This increase in the number of uninsured would leave many with mental health or substance use disorders without receiving care from behavioral health providers, including MFTs. Since people with untreated mental health and substance use disorders often end up in the emergency room, any cost savings due to these cuts will be offset due to increased costs to hospitals in providing this care.
In addition, this legislation would eliminate the requirement that a state Medicaid managed care plan cover essential health benefits, including the treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders. The elimination of mental health and substance use disorder services as a required benefit, along with the other changes to Medicaid made under the AHCA, will eventually force state governments to reduce or eliminate behavioral health services as benefits to enrollees in these Medicaid programs.
Please take action and urge your Congressperson to oppose the AHCA and any health reform legislation that does not at least maintain current access to mental health and substance use treatment. It is important that MFTs educate Members of Congress on the need for continued access to mental health and substance use treatment. If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact AAMFT at firstname.lastname@example.org.