Six Month Anniversary of Health Reform - Key Provisions Take Effect
September 23rd marks the six month anniversary of the landmark health reform law (Affordable Care Act). Several key provisions of the law become effective today, many of which will improve the lives of individuals with mental health and substance use conditions.
- Children under the age of 19 can no longer be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition. (This provision will be extended to adults in January 2014.)
- If a parents’ plan provides coverage for dependent children, it is now required to cover children up to age 26.
- 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.
- All private plans are now required to cover co-payment- and deductible-free preventive services, including depression screening for adults and adolescents.
The government’s health reform website (www.healthcare.gov) has more information on these provisions and other aspects of the law. You can also view a webinar Mental Health America presented on the health care reform law and read a fact sheet on how the law affects mental health and substance use treatment and services at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/action/policy-issues-a-z/healthcare-reform.
Advocates Win Big Victory as Senate Defeats Attempt to Gut Health Fund
Advocates won a big victory last week as the Senate defeated by a vote of 46-52 an amendment offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) to a small business bill that would have gutted the new Prevention and Public Health Fund. Thank you for responding to our Action Alerts and making your voice heard.
With this defeat, Mental Health America hopes the Fund now has a chance to reach its goal of expanding and sustaining investment in prevention and public health programs. The Fund, which was created as part of the Affordable Care Act, marks an historic investment Congress in much-needed preventive services, community level prevention and public health. These efforts are urgently needed to address the many emerging health threats our country faces and the persistent chronic disease rates, including behavioral health conditions, which we must begin to control.
Urge Your Senators to Cosponsor HIT Bill Extension for Behavioral Health
Make sure to use our action alert to contact your Senators and urge they cosponsor the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 3709). Introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the bill would extend financial incentives for adopting health information technology including electronic health records to mental health and addiction treatment providers and facilities. Establishing an interoperable system of electronic health information is critical to encouraging greater care coordination among mental health, primary and other health care providers as well as increased engagement of consumers in managing their own care. The bill has been cosponsored by Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Reed (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). If your Senator has not signed on, please contact them and urge they do so. The legislation is a companion to the House bill, H.R. 5040, which was introduced by Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Tim Murphy (R-PA) and featured during Advocacy of Mental Health America’s Annual Conference.
Congress May Adjourn Early; Lame Duck Session Eyed
Although the House and Senate are scheduled to adjourn on October 8, it is possible they may conclude their work a week early and then reconvene in a “lame-duck” session after the election. Before returning to campaign in your communities, lawmakers must pass a continuing resolution that will keep funding the federal government past October 1st as Fiscal Year 2011 gets under way, and both chambers are expected to complete work on a small-business tax and lending package. Several issues, including energy and tax bills may be addressed in the lame-duck. But election results may well determine the extent of action that legislators take.
Webinars on Integrated Care
Mental Health America recently presented a policy webinar, co-sponsored by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, on integrated care, which you can listen to at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/action/policy-issues-a-z/integrated-care. We have scheduled another webinar, Engaging Consumers in Health Integration and Wellness Promotion, for November 1, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. EST. Questions? Contact Sarah Steverman at firstname.lastname@example.org.