Although the Freedom Caucus’ expression of support for the MacArthur Amendment is a breakthrough, there are significant obstacles ahead which might prevent ultimate passage. The first such obstacle is from moderate Republicans, including those within the Tuesday Group, who sought to preserve essential health benefits as set forth in the Affordable Care Act and preserved in the original AHCA. Even if the moderate Republicans go along with the MacArthur Amendment and the bill passes by the House, the hurdles on the Senate side are even steeper. It is unclear whether the AHCA with the MacArthur Amendment could be passed under Senate rules with a simple majority, or whether a filibuster-proof 60 votes is necessary. Passage with even a simple majority could be more difficult in the more moderate Senate.
All in all, the MacArthur Amendment is not good news for service providers in the mental and behavioral health space, but the obstacles to ultimate passage are significant.
Walter H. Boone is a partner with Balch & Bingham, LLP, a full service corporate law firm supporting the behavioral health industry with offices across the Southeastern United States. Balch & Bingham, LLP is an Advisor to the American Addiction Treatment Association (AATA), a national trade association that provides online resources and training events, for licensing and certification, operations, reimbursement, clinical standards, patient privacy, quality assurance, and risk management.