New CBO Score on AHCA Confirms Devastating Losses to Mental Health System
May 25, 2017 | nami.org
Today, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) noted that the newly released Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score confirms devastating losses to mental health care in the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA).
“Under the American Health Care Act, it is estimated that 23 million Americans will lose coverage for mental health care by 2026, including 14 million who will no longer be covered by Medicaid,” said Mary Giliberti, CEO of NAMI. “This will force people with mental illness out of work, onto the streets, and in our jails and emergency rooms. All this will do is shift costs and overwhelm local communities, emergency rooms and law enforcement.”
According to the CBO report, the AHCA will slash $834 billion from Medicaid over ten years. “Medicaid is the cornerstone of the public mental health system. Cuts of this magnitude will deplete mental health services and jeopardize care for people with the most severe mental health conditions,” said Giliberti.
The CBO also makes it clear that premiums for health insurance will drop for younger, healthier people because older people and people with chronic conditions, like mental illness, will be forced to carry the burden and be charged much more for coverage. In addition, states will be able to allow health plans to no longer cover mental health treatment.
“People shouldn’t be charged more because they have a mental health condition and it’s outrageous that mental health coverage could be optional. No one would ever consider making coverage for diabetes or heart disease optional,” said Giliberti, “Mental illness does not discriminate by political party and it’s an issue that has strong bipartisan support. This CBO score makes it clearer than ever that the Senate should reject the AHCA and work to improve, not dismantle, our nation’s mental health system.”
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.