DBSA Expresses Concerns About Impact of American Health Care Act

Proposed legislation will significantly reduce access to mental health care.

Chicago, IL (March 17, 2017)
As America’s leading peer-directed national organization focusing on the two most prevalent mental health conditions, depression and bipolar disorder, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) expresses its deep concern about the impact on the mental health of millions of Americans should the proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be approved. According to the Congressional Office of Budget it is estimated that 24 million more people would be uninsured under the proposed legislation than under the current law. Additional benefits that could be lost under replacement legislation include:

  • Requirement to include mental health coverage
  • Coverage without annual and lifetime financial restrictions
  • Mental health parity (equal coverage for physical and mental health)

Just a few months ago in December, 2016 Congress championed mental health reforms with the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act which included provisions that strengthened access to mental health care services. In light of those landmark reforms, now is hardly the time to dismantle hard won protections. While not exhaustive, below are concerns most relevant to individuals living with mood disorders.

Impacting access to care
Single adults with mental health and addiction disorders are the largest beneficiaries of Medicaid expansion; repealing expansion would potentially leave them adrift in an already overwhelmed mental health care system unable to provide them with the help they need. Proposals to refinance Medicaid into a block grant or “per capita cap” system is projected to result in a $1 trillion cut in federal Medicaid spending over the 10 years, much of it devoted to helping people with depression and bipolar disorder. 

Other individuals and families obtain health insurance through the health care exchange programs. Proposed legislation would result in major changes affecting their ability to purchase health care insurance as financial subsidies are converted to tax credits and at greatly reduced amounts. These policies will make it difficult for many Americans to afford health insurance premiums and co-pays.

Investing in evidence-based care
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act could also jeopardize valuable research initiatives, such as the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) program. The mandate of this initiative— authorized by Congress as a result of the ACA—is to increase evidence-based health care options that are focused on outcomes most important to patients. DBSA is currently participating in three PCORI research projects that will provide evidence-based recommendations to improve access to mental health care.

DBSA recognizes that while our health care system is far from perfect, it cannot absorb the shock of repealing the life changing provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  DBSA calls upon all of its Chapters and support group participants to contact their Representatives and Senators to express their concern about the potential impact of these proposals.  For updates on these issues subscribe to the DBSA advocacy platform at DBSAlliance.org/TakeAction.