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MHA Calls Supreme Court Review of Health Reform Critical

Mental Health America Calls Supreme Court Review of Health Reform Critical to Future of People Living with Mental Health, Substance Use Conditions

Law Helping Millions, Urges Advocates to Speak Out

Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or svetzner@mentalhealthamerica.net

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 20, 2012)—Mental Health America today called the Supreme Court’s review of the constitutionality of health care reform (the Affordable Care Act) critical to the future of millions of Americans living with mental health and substance use conditions who are being helped by the expansion of access to treatment.

The organization urged advocates to participate in events and activities across the country and to speak out in support of the law.

Mental Health America has joined in a friend of the court brief arguing that the law be upheld.

“The Affordable Care Act marks a tremendous step forward in our efforts to improve access to care for individuals with mental health or substance use conditions and in our advocacy for prevention of these conditions,” said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America.

Dr. Shern said several key provisions that are already effective are improving the lives of millions of Americans with mental health and substance use conditions. These include:

  • Children under the age of 19 can no longer be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition—and insurers won’t be able to use those conditions to raise premiums.  (This provision will be extended to adults in January 2014.)
  • For the first time, mental health and substance use disorder services are covered by requiring those benefits be included in plans offered to small businesses and individuals.
  • The groundbreaking Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and its prohibition of discriminatory limits on mental health and substance use services, is extended to those plans.
  • The expansion of Medicaid also requires those who are newly eligible to receive mental health and substance use services at parity with other benefits.If a parents' plan provides coverage for dependent children, it is now required to cover children up to age 26.
  • All new plans must offer co-payment- and deductible-free preventive services, including depression screening for adolescents and adults.
  • Insurance companies can no longer set limits on the dollar amount of health benefits that they will cover in a year or over an individual's lifetime.

The requirement that coverage for dependent children must be available up to age 26 and additional funding for school-based health clinics—with the direction they include mental health and substance use services—are critical in light of the fact that mental health conditions often strike during the adolescent and young adult years.

“Most people with these conditions will not receive treatment until many years later, if at all,” Dr. Shern said. “Extending coverage will help to address these issues.”

Among the many other important new programs and reforms are initiatives to support education and training of additional mental health and addiction treatment providers and to improve coordination of care through a new state option for medical/health homes in Medicaid that includes individuals with serious mental health conditions among the priority populations.

Dr. Shern said all these provisions will be threatened if the Court rules any part of the law unconstitutional.
Additional information on how the Affordable Care Act affects mental health treatment and services is available at:  http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/action/policy-issues-a-z/healthcar....

Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net) is the nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.

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2000 N. Beauregard Street,
6th Floor Alexandria, VA 22311

Phone (703) 684.7722

Toll Free (800) 969.6642

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