The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been under the scrutiny of everyone since it was passed. While many people stood for it there we just as many people standing against it. With the inauguration of Donald Trump and the promises made by him during his campaign of repealing the ACA, what will happen to those who need addiction treatment?
With the ACA those who needed addiction treatment were better able to get the help they needed. The ACA allowed many people who before went without health insurance to become covered by Medicaid, especially for those who were under the poverty line. While addiction affects people of all social and economic status it is absurd to not see the greater effect on the lower classes especially those under the poverty line. With this act, these people, who otherwise may not have health insurance, are now covered and can receive the treatment and help that they need to become sober and healthy. The ACA also prevented insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including substance abuse. One of the biggest things the ACA did for those in need of treatment was expanded parity rules. This meant that insurance plans had to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment at the same level as regular medical care. This included mental health and substance abuse in the ACA’s list of 10 Essential Health Benefits, which are areas of coverage that basic health care plans across the country must cover. For many people, this act was a federal statement that substance abuse is not a crime but a medical issue.
Repealing the ACA & Access to Addiction Treatment
Repealing the ACA could remove the access these people currently have to treatment and leave several million people suffering with mental illness or substance abuse disorders without aid. Repealing the act doesn’t only affect those with Medicaid but also those with marketplace and employer health insurance because of the ACA’s reimbursements for the substance use disorders treatment that helped with the shortage of providers. The Health and Human Services held $94 million in grants for anti-addiction programs at low-income clinics through the ACA. These grants can’t be taken away, but they do expire in two years and when that happens it is unknown what will happen to these programs and the people they help. While a Senate vote approved a budget resolution that will affect the Affordable Care Act in January, the House of Republicans just introduced their bill to repeal the ACA’s individual mandate, on March 6th, that also tries to keep coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and let children stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26 years of age. Experts warn that these changes can result in millions of people losing access to insurance. If the people who suffer with addiction and mental health issues are unable to get the treatment and medications they need the number of overdoses, suicides, and drug-related crimes will continue to grow.
Not only will repealing the ACA affect the people, but also the treatment centers. With many treatment centers only able to keep their doors open due to insurance payments and government grants and funding, without those things many of these places may be forced to shut down. With the ever increasing number of people who suffer with substance abuse and mental health disorders, now is not the time to be losing these treatment centers. The entire country seems to be involved in and opioid epidemic and this will only continue to get worse, especially when the people who suffer cannot get access to the help they need.
Addiction and the Affordable Care Act
The government says that under the ACA about 20 million people signed up for insurance and according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) there are currently 22.7 million people suffering from drug and/or alcohol addictions. That means if the ACA is repealed and isn’t replaced with something of similar aid and benefits for those who suffer with addiction and mental health issues then millions of people will continue to suffer without treatment. The problems and increases in substance abuse and mental health issues will be compounded instead of lessened. Before the ACA many people who suffered from addiction and/or mental health issues saw incarceration as the only way to get treatment. Even then most “treatment” was inefficient or non-existent and as soon as they were released the substance abuse or mental health disorders became a problem again. The ACA also allowed people with newly developed addictions to receive treatment, they didn’t have to suffer through years of abuse and health damage or becoming permanently disabled before getting the treatment they needed.
Repealing the ACA could be devastating to millions, Democrats and Republicans both know that. They are both trying to come up with something to replace the ACA instead of just repealing it. Even with reforms instead of repeals, things could change negatively for those who suffer with addiction and/or mental health disorders. Treatment is important for the individual and for the community. If you have any questions about your insurance and treatment, or lack thereof, click here or call us at 1-888-986-7848.