Mental Health America Applauds Action to Delay Harmful Medicaid Cuts
Calls Veto Threat "Wrong-headed"
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (April 17, 2008) Mental Health America today applauded action taken Wednesday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to delay implementation of seven harmful Medicaid regulations and called an Administration veto threat "wrongheaded."
The panel unanimously approved the "Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008" (H.R. 5613), which would delay until April 1, 2009, implementation of the regulatory changes that would dramatically reduce coverage of services and supports needed by individuals with mental illnesses. The bill was introduced by Congressmen John Dingell (D-MI) and Timothy Murphy (R-PA).
The seven rules include those that will reduce Medicaid recipients' access to rehabilitative services, case management, school-based transportation and outreach services, graduate medical education payments and hospital clinic services.
On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said in a letter to committee members that senior White House advisers will urge President Bush to veto the legislation.
"This veto threat is wrong-headed," said David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "The approaches suggested in these regulations are regressive and will further fragment services ultimately frustrating our citizen's ability to recover.
"The regulation limiting reimbursement for rehabilitative services, case management, and school-based services are particularly important for enabling adults and children with mental health conditions to receive care in their homes and communities instead of in costly institutions."
Last week, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved the bill by voice vote after adding language clarifying that the administration would not be prohibited from issuing other Medicaid regulations. Lawmakers also approved language that would provide $25 million annually for anti-fraud efforts and language that would direct the HHS secretary to contract with an independent group to study the issues that the regulations sought to address.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in times of crisis.