New Bill Puts Mental Health Coverage At Risk

3/8/2017

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One in five Americans experiences a mental health condition, but only half get needed treatment. Coverage for mental health care helps people get treatment when they need it, helping them to stay in school, on the job and in recovery.

But the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would reduce funding for health coverage--from insurance plans to Medicaid--and put mental health care at risk. It caps Medicaid funding, which will lead to deep cuts and jeopardize mental health services.

Tell your U.S. Representative this is unacceptable.

Call (202) 224-3121, press #2 and enter your zip code.

Use our talking points below—and add your own story, if you'd like.

As a constituent, I urge you to reject American Health Care Act provisions that will harm people with mental illness: 

Individual and Small Group Health Insurance

  • Current federal help to buy health insurance would be reduced, leaving millions of people, including people with mental illness, unable to afford mental health care.

Traditional Medicaid

  • Traditional Medicaid would be converted to a “per capita cap” system, which means states would get a fixed amount of federal funding per person. Instead of flexibility, this would lead to deep cuts over time and jeopardize mental health services.
  • Federal Medicaid funding would be frozen at current levels, adjusted for inflation. Funding for mental health and substance use services is already inadequate and could not be improved without cutting other needed health care.

Medicaid Expansion

  • Nearly 1 out of 3 people covered by Medicaid expansion live with a mental health or substance use condition. This bill would end new enrollment in 2020, leaving people with mental health and substance use conditions without the Medicaid services they need to stay in school, on the job and in recovery.
  • Medicaid expansion plans would no longer have to cover mental health and substance use care, abandoning Congress’ commitment to mental health and substance use coverage.
  • People covered by Medicaid expansion before 2020 would be dropped from their plan if they have a lapse of coverage of more than a month. For people with mental illness, this is a high price to pay for forgetting to pay a premium while someone is in the hospital or experiencing severe symptoms.

Congress shouldn’t put millions of Americans with mental illness at risk. Cutting corners in health coverage will keep people from getting the treatment they need and will push people with mental illness into costly emergency rooms, hospitals and jails.

Investing early in affordable, quality mental health care promotes recovery and saves taxpayer dollars in the long term by avoiding disability, criminal justice involvement and frequent hospital stays.

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Editor’s note: This page has been updated since its original publication on March 7, 2017.