There’s a lot of talk, but little action taking place in Washington this week as the city shifts to unified GOP leadership for the coming year. Following are some of the key issues AMHCA is tackling.
Mental health parity threatened by repeal of the ACA?
AMHCA members may recall the Obamacare law of 2010 classified mental health and addiction services as an "essential health benefit" that must be covered by all small and individual plans sold in the nation, without annual or lifetime caps on benefits. Obamacare expanded upon the original 2008 mental health parity legislation that required large group plans to offer mental health benefits on par with other health coverage. AMHCA and the larger mental health community are now turning our attention to the beginnings of Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare, potentially including the mental health and substance abuse benefits now provided by health plans both in and outside of the exchanges. A new story from The Texas Tribune reports on grassroots fears already being heard concerning repeal of ACA parity requirements. Yesterday, AMHCA participated in a briefing with congressional staff on ACA issues, and we learned that detailed provisions like mental health parity requirements have not yet been raised among GOP leaders, who are at an early stage of internal discussion of the repeal effort.
Mental Health Reform and Medicare Provider Status Legislation
AMHCA is continuing to urge our members to use our grassroots resources to lobby their members of Congress in support of provider recognition for the profession. Please follow this link to send your message to Capitol Hill. Based on our recent conversations with congressional staff, we expect the Senate will consider separate mental health reform legislation during the post-election lame duck session, and we need our Medicare language from S. 1830 included in that package. We urge all AMHCA members to call, e-mail or visit their Senators within the next two weeks, before early December when they are expected to consider the mental health reform package. AMHCA is working with our coalition partners to generate a large grassroots response to this request, so please add your voice!
U.S. Surgeon General Recommends Broadened Medicare Providers
A new Surgeon General’s report is out, “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Among the report's many recommendations are adding covered providers under Medicare to include “multiple other licensed and certified professionals” who now provide services for substance use disorders. The lengthy report simply states unspecified licensed providers for Medicare inclusion, but it will be helpful in making our case for the profession. See the report recommendations concerning workforce composition and education. AMCHA plans to use the Surgeon General’s recommendation in our briefing materials for congressional visits.