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Statement of Mental Health America on Supreme Court's Decision Upholding Affordable Care Act

STATEMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA ON SUPREME COURT'S DECISION UPHOLDING AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Contact: Sarah Steverman, (703) 797-2594 or ssteverman@mentalhealthamerica.net

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 28, 2012)—Mental Health America today released the following the statement from Dr. David Shern, president and CEO, on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

"The decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act is a tremendous victory for the American public, including millions of individuals living with mental health and substance use conditions.

"The law represents an enormous step forward in our efforts to expand access to care for individuals with mental health or substance use conditions and in our advocacy for prevention of these conditions. Mental health and substance use conditions are among the most prevalent of health conditions, with the age of onset for these illnesses occurring in adolescence and young adulthood. Half of all people with a mental health diagnosis first experience it by age 14, but will not receive treatment until age 24. These delays have been importantly underwritten by historical discrimination in insurance coverage for mental illnesses and addictions. Owing in part to these delays in treatment, mental health and substance use conditions account for a greater burden of disease than any other illness class and constitute an important group of pre-existing conditions. The law's guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions will address these barriers, lower costs, end discrimination, and dramatically improve health outcomes.

"It is estimated that one-fifth to one-third of uninsured Americans have mental and substance use disorders. Of the estimated 32 million people who will gain coverage, about 4 to 6 million will have untreated mental illnesses or addictions. By including mental health and substance use services on the list of essential benefits that are to be covered in new plans offered to the uninsured beginning in 2014, the law recognizes how integral behavioral health is to overall health. And it extends the groundbreaking Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and its prohibition of discriminatory limits on mental health and substance use services 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. State participation in the Medicaid expansion is therefore critically important. Since today's ruling allows states to opt out of the expansion without penalty to their current Medicaid programs, MHA affiliates around the nation will be working with their state governments to ensure state participation. The law also includes prevention, early intervention, and treatment of mental and substance use disorders as an integral part of improving and maintaining overall health.

"The law is already improving access to care and reducing costs. More than 2.5 million young adults who were uninsured have gained coverage because of the provision that allows them to stay on their parents plan till the age of 26. Most health plans cannot limit or deny benefits or deny coverage outright for a child younger than age 19 simply because the child has a "preexisting condition." Given the early age of onset, these provisions are critically important for children and young adults who have mental and addictive disorders. The parents of over 17.6 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry that their children will be denied coverage because of such a health problem. And in 2014, the law will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more to any person based on their medical history. In addition, as a result of the law, 86 million Americans now receive coverage through their private health insurance plan for many preventive services without copays or deductibles.

"The law is providing Americans security, peace of mind and control over their health care. Now that the Court has spoken, it is time to end efforts to dismantle or repeal it which will not serve the public interest. It is time to stand up for the health and well-being of children, families and seniors and serve their interests."

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

Fax (703) 684.5968

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