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House Republicans Introduce Plan to Gut Mental Health Care

House Republicans Introduce Plan to Gut Mental Health Care

On Monday, House Republicans introduced legislation to gut mental health care for millions of Americans.

For individuals enrolled in Medi-Cal, the legislation will enact a per-capita cap, or a limit on federal spending for each Medicaid enrollee. For enrollees with significant health costs, including prescription drugs, on-going treatments, and hospitalizations, this will mean that costs above the cap must be covered by the state or by the enrollee. California stands to lose at least $20 billion, or one fifth of our Medi-Cal program, which will force the state to make dramatic cuts to eligibility and benefits.

The legislation also dismantles the Medi-Cal Expansion. Thirty percent of those newly eligible for coverage are living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders, the majority previously uninsured. While people who are currently enrolled in Medi-Cal will be able to remain covered, new enrollment will be frozen in 2020. Additionally, anyone with a coverage gap of more than one month will lose his/her coverage.

Additionally, beginning in 2020, the Essential Health Benefits requirement in Medicaid would be eliminated, including mental health and substance use treatment. California will have the option of whether or not to require Medi-Cal Managed Care plans to provide these benefits in light of decreased federal funding for the program.

For individuals enrolled through Covered California, income-based tax subsidies will be eliminated and replaced with an unspecified and discretionary fund for states. Additionally, for commercially insured individuals, the prohibition on discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions, including mental health conditions, will be eliminated. Individuals who have not maintained continuous coverage will be required to pay a 30% penalty beginning in 2019.

In summary, the legislation is an attack on mental health care and addiction treatment for millions of Americans. Despite bipartisan overtures regarding the opioid epidemic and the passage of the 21st Century CURES Act in late 2016, House Republicans have shown that they have no intention of ensuring that individuals living with mental illness and substance use disorders have access to the treatment they need.

Check out CPEHN's fact sheet for more information on what’s at stake for Californians benefiting from mental health care services.

Call your Representative Now! The legislation is expected to move to a vote very quickly. Dial (202) 224-3121.

Tell them:

  • “Do not vote on a bill until lawmakers and the public know the impact it will have on the federal budget and more importantly on the more than 20 million people who have gained coverage under the ACA.
  • Keep your promise – ensure that all Americans have access to mental health care and addiction treatment.
  • Do not strip access to care from millions.
  • Vote no on the repeal of the ACA!”

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