Repeal en The Fatal Flaw in Graham-Cassidy, and What Comes Next <span>The Fatal Flaw in Graham-Cassidy, and What Comes Next</span> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Wed, 09/27/2017 - 11:55</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Paul Gionfriddo, MHA National President and CEO</em></p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/Flag_0.jpg" style="width: 100%;"></p> <p>Graham-Cassidy died a political death this week, but it isn’t the last we’ll hear of Affordable Care Act reform in this Congress.</p> <p>Politics – and the reality that <a href="" target="_blank">no more than 20 percent of the public supported the proposal</a> (which still hadn’t actually been exposed to the light of day) – made the difference.</p> <p>But here’s what should have made the difference:&nbsp;the fatal flaw in the Graham-Cassidy approach was that <strong>it intended to reward with more Medicaid money those states that have done the least to support their own Medicaid-eligible populations in the past.</strong></p> <p>If you think that the promise of more money would have changed that, think again.</p> <p>Most of these states have gotten a higher federal match since the beginning of the Medicaid program, and these extra federal dollars have done nothing to improve health outcomes in those states during the past fifty years.</p> <p>That’s because <strong>you can’t just send money to states and expect them to improve care, any more that you can take money that states have used to improve health care and not expect people to be worse off</strong> (something the Graham-Cassidy also would have done).</p> <p>So, what’s next? We expect Congress to revisit ACA reform during the next few months. They’ve promised as much, and this is a promise I expect that they will keep.</p> <p>They can continue to do this in the worst way possible, without input from experts, without hearings that include advocates and the public, and without drafting bills that can be read and reviewed by members of Congress before they are voted on.</p> <p>Or they can do this in a thoughtful, bipartisan way – <a href="" target="_blank">the same way they did&nbsp;mental health reform in 2016</a>.</p> <p>The most recent proposals that were introduced by the two political parties could not have been further apart.</p> <p>However, they – and the earlier effort by Senators Alexander and Murray – did signal a continued willingness of members of both parties to improve existing laws and address the challenges that have emerged for so many who are affected by them.</p> <p>While we continue to applaud the efforts of members of both parties to improve on the current system of insurance through amendments to, or replacement of, provisions of the Affordable Care Act, we believe that this work – like the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 – <strong>can only be done in a collaborative, deliberative environment in which members work together across the aisle in the full light of day to develop comprehensive reforms with adequate public input</strong>.</p> <p>We believe that the goal of a federal guarantee of universal coverage is still the correct one, but never at the expense of failing to offer and reimburse behavioral health services at parity with other services.</p> <p>Additionally, we favor fostering a spirit of independence and creativity at the state level, but not without protecting against policies that single out people with serious mental illnesses and other chronic diseases and treating them as second-class citizens.</p> <p>Also, we favor promoting innovation and true services integration among service providers and others in the field, without creating needless legal barriers to sharing of information and resources.</p> <p>Furthermore, we favor rewarding this innovation with the kind of financial support that will bring new programs and new strategies – including those that use the talents and skills of people with lived experience in implementing those strategies – for serving people with mental health concerns to scale.</p> <p>Finally, we continue to be the strongest advocates for giving much greater attention to the needs of all our children.</p> <p>For too long, we have ignored mental health conditions as they have emerged in our children, either because we fear the unintended social effects of diagnosing them properly or because we have not been sure how to treat them effectively.</p> <p>We have answers to these concerns today that include integrating health, behavioral health, and educational services for children, because this integration – along with prevention, early identification, and early intervention – is essential to their success in later life.</p> <p>At Mental Health America, we believe that we must stop waiting for crises to occur, and must stop waiting until people are so ill that recovery is more challenging. We must act <a href="" target="_blank">Before Stage 4</a> whenever possible, just as we do with every other chronic disease in America.</p> <p>And our federal policy must embrace this approach.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/repeal" hreflang="en">Repeal</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/obamacare" hreflang="en">Obamacare</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/medicaid" hreflang="en">Medicaid</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/senate" hreflang="en">Senate</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1582&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="AHxw2UK9MYCHCZFv7WkZbq4_q4Mmw0aTpUazkvAAsXQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 27 Sep 2017 15:55:37 +0000 JCheang 1582 at The Affordable Care Act (ACA) went a long way... <span>The Affordable Care Act (ACA) went a long way...</span> <span><span lang="" about="/users/choward" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">CHoward</span></span> <span>Wed, 01/18/2017 - 09:50</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By: Debbie Plotnick, MHA Vice President of Mental Health and Systems Advocacy</em></p> <p>Why am I and why should you be concerned about the prospect of rolling back or eliminating healthcare reforms? If you or a family member has mental health needs, it’s important for you to understand how this could impact you and your loved ones. Let me tell you why, from my personal and professional viewpoint.</p> <p>People who know me or have heard me speak publicly know my signature story: “Every gray hair says Ashley. And Ashley tells me that I should thank her for two things: my distinctive silver mane, and the direction of my policy and advocacy career. And I do.” Please allow me to tell you why.</p> <p>My grown, beautiful daughter is a nurse, studying to be a nurse practitioner. She is married and about to make me a grandmother. But things weren’t always so rosy for Ashley. Between the ages of 14 and 18--a very common age-range when many mental health concerns arise--my daughter was deeply depressed, often suicidal, and was hospitalized several times. By age 16, she had reached our family’s employer-sponsored health insurance lifetime limit for mental health coverage. You may already know that there is a happy outcome, but it almost bankrupted my family to get there. And it really was the catalyst that propelled my professional career into mental health policy and advocacy.</p> <p>During the years when I managed advocacy and direct service programs at one of MHA’s largest affiliates, Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania -working to help people access a full array of community mental health programs -one of the most ardent wishes that my colleagues and I shared was the dream that the people we served could also have access to healthcare treatment for the other multiple, chronic, cooccurring conditions they almost always had.&nbsp;</p> <p>With passage of the 2008 Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (MHAEA), some families dealing with mental health needs did see some relief from unequal mental health coverage and exclusions. But the provisions of this law only applied to employer-sponsored insurance plans provided by companies that employed more than fifty people, and which were not self-insured plans. Even for the limited number of plans where parity was required under this law, the employer could still elect to not cover mental health at all. Most employer-sponsored plans were still not covering mental health on par with other health needs. And Medicaid, which is the largest payer for mental health services and community supports, in almost all circumstances, required people to be declared disabled before they were eligible for coverage. So, most people could not access mental health services. More - much more - needed to be done.&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2010 with the passage of the ACA, we saw progress. While it wasn’t perfect, and the Supreme Court made its state Medicaid expansion provisions optional - for people with mental health conditions, their families, and for me and my fellow advocates - the ACA went a long way in making our healthcare advocacy dream come true.</p> <p>Health care reform made mental health and substance use treatment an “Essential Health Benefit.” This means that all insurance plans must provide coverage, without lifetime limits. And they do so <strong><em>at parity</em></strong>—meaning they couldn’t have higher copays or more limitations for mental health and substance use services than they did for other health conditions.&nbsp; It meant that people who’d been treated for mental health or other health conditions were no longer unable to buy insurance because they had “pre-existing conditions.” It meant, in all but a handful of states, people with low-incomes could access Medicaid who were not disabled, or not parents of young children. And it meant that young people at the vulnerable time when major mental health conditions often hit, they could stay on their parents’ insurance until they were 26.</p> <p>This is why we should ALL care about threats to the ACA. We need to protect health care reform, and the strides our community has made to address mental health parity.</p> <p>If someone in your family, or the people you work with or for, have benefited from these ACA reforms, please join me in telling your members of Congress. Call, write, email. Use social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to tell them your story. Tell them how these provisions have helped you and your family, and tell them why rescinding these provisions would hurt people in their district, in their state. Do it today.</p> <p>If my story has moved you to take action, please contact your Member of Congress and Senators to tell them your story. Click here to look up your <a href=""><u>U.S. House </u></a>and <a href=""><u>Senate</u> </a>officials.&nbsp;</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/obamacare" hreflang="en">Obamacare</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/repeal" hreflang="en">Repeal</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/insurance" hreflang="en">Insurance</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/parity" hreflang="en">Parity</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1391&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="b-q6a731nUGIPtQ9NlB97edatH_eSyDve_ZshhshNx0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:50:53 +0000 CHoward 1391 at