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Statement by Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of MHA, on the Better Care Reconciliation Act

"The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) falls far short of what is needed and will ultimately do significant harm to people with all chronic conditions, including mental illnesses, while increasing the cost of health care to everyone.

"While it leaves in place the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that insurers cover pre-existing conditions, it does not require insurance products to include all essential benefits. This means that while people with mental health conditions would be able to obtain insurance, the insurance would not include all the services they need.

"It also replaces much of both the core and expanded Medicaid program – lifelines to people with serious and persistent mental illnesses. The new tax credits that will replace Medicaid for millions of people won’t pay for the services Medicaid does, and people with long-term care and service needs will become increasingly suffocated by higher out-of-pocket medical costs.

"In addition, by law, insurers would be allowed to pay less of the health care bill than they do today, as “benchmark plans” are redefined and guaranteed minimum loss ratios eliminated. This may seem like a good deal for insurers, but it isn’t.

"There is no mandate for anyone to buy insurance. Yet insurers must cover pre-existing conditions. The only option will be for people to wait until they need health care before they buy insurance, and then shop for the plan that best covers the services they need.

"The result will be adverse selection on steroids.

"MHA believes that Congress has the capacity to work in a bipartisan fashion to improve our health care delivery system, but not at this expense.

"Adequate coverage does need to be extended to those below poverty, and pre-existing conditions should never again be the reason people can’t buy insurance. But people also need adequate coverage for preventive services, for early interventions, and for integrated care, services, and supports that promote recovery from illness.

"Changes to the ACA must be made in the context of rational health policy. Alternatives to the Senate and House plans have been offered, and we would all be well served if Congress were to go back to the drawing board and get this right.

"Too many lives depend on it."

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