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ICYMI: Pallone Warns that Repealing ACA Would Be “Catastrophic” for Mental Health Care

Dec 5, 2016
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) warned colleagues on the House Floor last week that bipartisan efforts to update our nation’s mental health care system will be undermined if Republicans are successful in repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Pallone made the comments during floor debate on the 21st Century Cures Act last week, which included the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.  The Senate is expected to begin consideration of the bill tonight.

“I’m pleased the [21st Century Cures Act] includes the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” Pallone said on the House Floor.  “This is a helpful step towards the more substantial reforms our broken mental health system needs.  I’m specifically proud that the bill expands an important set of Medicaid benefits to kids receiving inpatient psychiatric treatment.  However, let’s be clear, the benefits of the mental health bill will be far outweighed by the catastrophic harm caused to individuals with mental illness if the Republicans move forward with their radical plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, block grant Medicaid, and cut benefits for low income individuals.”

The ACA provided the most significant coverage gains for mental health care in decades:

  • The Medicaid expansion included in the ACA is expected to provide 32 million previously uninsured people with access to behavioral health coverage by the year 2020. 
  • Cutting federal funding for Medicaid, which accounts for approximately 25 percent of all mental health reimbursement nationwide, will dramatically reduce low-income Americans access to mental health care services.
  • Mental health parity laws were also radically improved by the ACA, which requires all health insurance plans sold on the exchange markets to cover mental health services at parity with general medical coverage.  Prior to passage of the ACA, many health insurance plans did not cover costs for mental health care. 

Republican efforts to repeal the ACA would take away millions of Americans access to mental health services, and would undermine the improvements Congress is looking to make to our nation’s mental health care system by passing the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. 

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