By Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO
However, a delay doesn't mean that we stop advocating. The House bill was pulled in March only to resurface in May and passed by a narrow margin, so we need you to keep calling, keep writing, and keep visiting your senators to make sure they will promise to protect mental health care. They could be taking this up again as early as the second week in July.
Here are 9 things you should know and share about the Senate Health Care Bill, also known as the “Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).” You can share these facts with family and friends, as widely as you can. You can even link to this post on your social media.
- The CBO has estimated that insurance premiums for everyone will increase by 20% in 2018.
- The CBO has also concluded that, on average, deductibles for a benchmark plan will increase by $2,400 per year.
- Unless individual states act, no insurance plans will be obligated to cover mental health conditions, cancer, or any other essential health benefits.
- In benchmark plans, insurers will be required to cover only 58% of the cost of an average individual’s health care. The individual will be responsible for the rest.
- 15 million people – many of whom have mental health conditions – will be removed from the Medicaid roles.
- Despite the extension of tax credit subsidies to low income people, 7 million fewer people will have private insurance – because the CBO concluded that cost of private insurance will be so high that “few low-income people would purchase any plan.”
- People over the age of 60 will be forced to pay five times what young people pay for the same coverage, no matter how healthy they are. A 64-year-old with an annual income of $56,800 would have to pay, on average $20,500 for health insurance in 2026.
- People who lose their health insurance for more than two months will be denied any health care coverage for six months when they sign up for it again, no matter what the circumstances.
- Cuts to the Medicaid program will be so deep – 26% lower than under the current law by 2026, and even lower after that – that this will make it very difficult for safety net community behavioral health centers – which rely heavily on Medicare and Medicaid – to survive.
The most important thing to remember is to share these 9 things with your members of Congress when you see them, write them, or call their offices.
Please contact your Senators to let them know they must vote NO on the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
- Call them! Here's the contact information for all U.S. Senators: click here.
You can also dial the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. When you call, ask to be connected to your senators.
- Post to Twitter using the hashtag: #savementalhealth. Don't forget to tag your senators!
- Post to Facebook using the hashtag: #savementalhealth.
If you don't know who your senators are, find out by entering your state or zip code here.
Mental health care must be protected. Changes to the ACA must be made in the context of rational health policy. Alternatives to the Senate and House plans have been offered, and we would all be well served if Congress were to go back to the drawing board and get this right.
Too many lives depend on it.