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The first vote on the Senate health care repeal and replace bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, has failed but there are many votes to go before the fate of the Affordable Care Act is decided.
As the debate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act continues, it is important for us as clinical social workers to keep our focus on the way that all the bills that have been considered would affect patient access to mental health and substance use treatment. The elimination of essential benefits would return insurance plans to the days when they could pick and choose benefits and often left out mental health coverage. Another group that will be harmed if the essential benefits are eliminated are women - maternity and gynecology benefits were also typically not covered before the ACA.
The bill that will actually be voted on is still not clear. However, the plan to repeal the mandated payment for those who do not choose to get insurance, now being called the "bare-bones" plan or the "skinny repeal" plan, is gaining steam and will severely erode the funding base for those covered by the ACA in Medicaid and the individual market.
There is still great confusion about the plan that will eventually be voted on, but here is a message that will keep CSWA's concerns in front of your senators:
"I am a member of the Clinical Social Work Association and a constituent. Please make sure that mental health needs remain covered as they are in the Affordable Care Act. Make sure that the maternity and medical needs of women remain covered. Finally keep Medicaid expansion without caps and the mandated payment in place. We need all these components to avoid serious risks to coverage of the health and mental health of our citizens."
To contact your senators, go to https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/ and enter your state. To contact Republican senators most likely to support our views, go to https://www.trumpcaretoolkit.org/ and contact as many as possible.
As always, let me know when you have made your calls.
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