Today, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (The National Council) — the nation’s voice for mental health and addictions providers — celebrates the reassurance that 16 million Americans will be newly granted access to America’s healthcare safety net in 2014. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is particularly critical for people with serious, chronic conditions such as mental illnesses and addictions, many of whom are currently uninsured.
The Supreme Court decision upholds several critical ACA components, including:
- The Medicaid expansion to up to 16 million Americans who are currently uninsured
- The Prevention and Public Health Fund, which finances primary care and behavioral healthcare integration efforts to help improve deplorable mortality rates among Americans with behavioral health disorders and other chronic conditions
- Access to preventive services that ward off higher healthcare costs and unnecessary suffering
- Health exchanges
- Essential health benefits
- The Medicaid expansion and insurance offered through the exchanges will dramatically affect coverage for substance use disorders, enabling healthcare providers to identify and better treat drug and alcohol misuse
- Newly insured individuals will have coverage that includes mental health and substance use treatment at parity with medical/surgical benefits
However, we are concerned with the weakening of the Medicaid expansion. This could leave 16 million vulnerable Americans without an affordable healthcare alternative and countless others without the security of coverage for their behavioral health problems. The National Council looks forward to realizing the promises in the ACA by working to ensure states optimize the Medicaid expansion, as well as by working with Congress to ward off threats to America’s health and behavioral health.