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The Repealing of the ACA and The Potential Future of Mental Health Care in America

Just this past Tuesday, Congress held its first meeting of the new year in hopes of finalizing plans for when Trump is officiated into office. The first plan of action? Creating a way to repeal Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act.

In short, the Affordable Care Act extends coverage to those who are uninsured, lowers healthcare costs, and regulate the health insurance industry. As of 2016, an estimated 10 million people were able to get health insurance through Obamacare. In 2014, a bill was passed that ‘made mental and behavioral health treatment one of 10 essential benefits required in new insurance policies sold on the federal health exchange as well as to patients on Medicaid.

The one downside to this bill was that this coverage was only granted state by state, so if a state was against adding mental health care to Medicaid coverage, they had the option to do so. Despite the setback, this bill was crucial for those living with mental health issues that could not afford insurance. The mental health and substance abuse coverage options that are provided by Obamacare include behavioral health treatment, mental and behavioral health inpatient services, and substance abuse disorder.

So let me reiterate what I said before. Despite the state by state setback, this addition to Obamacare was essential towards the progress of mental health care in America. With the repealing of Obamacare, the progress that took so long to make, may be taken away. America’s mental health care system took one step forward, and it is in danger of taking ten steps back.

During Congresses’ meeting on Tuesday, it was reported that Republican lawmakers don’t want those who have insurance under Obamacare to lose it, so for now, their plan is to keep Obamacare until they create a replacement. As for now, not much information has been given on what exactly the replacement will contain, and who will be able to access insurance under this replacement.

For those living with mental health disorders, this is terrifying. In today’s society, it is normal for mental health issues to be brushed under the rug and not recieve the same attention that physical illnesses recieve. There are also many bridges to be crossed with mental health industries and their treatment of patients, as well as the crippling prices that come along with therapy and medication.

For now, all we can do is hope. Hope that this replacement is beneficial to all forms of healthcare, and hope that are fight towards proper mental health care is not stripped away from us. I’m looking at you, Paul Ryan.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.


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