Ask Your Senator to Support Health Care Reform TODAY!
The Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee health care reform bill entitled the “Affordable Health Choices Act” would expand health care coverage to the uninsured through private insurance plans with subsidies for low-income individuals and by extending Medicaid to those below 150% of poverty. The bill would also establish key insurance market reforms including prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions and guaranteeing issue of coverage to anyone who applies while also requiring everyone to have coverage (except in cases of extreme hardship).
Treatment for mental health and substance use is included in a short list of essential broad benefit categories that must be covered by plans participating in this new federal program but further
details of the benefit packages that plans must offer will be left up to an independent federal regulatory agency named the “Medical Advisory Council”.
To improve the quality of care for everyone, the HELP Committee bill would support establishment of “community health teams” or “medical homes” to improve care coordination particularly for those with chronic conditions. In addition, programs would be established to reduce hospital readmissions and to facilitate the use of shared decision-making. A new center would be established to fund comparative effectiveness research. In addition, a number of provisions are included to improve access to prevention and wellness services by establishing a national prevention and public health council to coordinate the work of a number of federal agencies, improving coverage of health risk assessments and screening services, and supporting community-based prevention programs. In addition, a number of helpful workforce development programs specific to mental health are proposed.
We urge you to contact your Senators to ask them to support this bill while also insisting on the following improvements:
an explicit requirement of parity in coverage of mental health and substance use benefits compared to medical and surgical benefits;
prioritization of mental health and substance use conditions in any new chronic care management and prevention programs; and
enhanced representation of consumer/patients in all levels of comparative effectiveness research priority-setting, development and interpretation with special supports to ensure these representatives can be effective participants.
Contact your Senators and Representatives by:
Calling their offices ( find contact info for your local and national offices); or Completing the Email Your Legislator form with your information (below); and Raising these issues at any town hall meetings or other public appearances by these officials in your area.
Complete the form with your information.
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I am writing to urge you to support the "Affordable Health Choices Act" that the Senate Health Education and Pensions Committee will consider this week while also insisting on the following improvements:
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Thank you for your ensuring that mental health and substance use concerns are adequately addressed in the developing health care reform legislation.
[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP] [Your Email]