Critter Corner: Bipartisan Efforts to Help Those with Mental Illness

Dear Angel, 

My son has bipolar disorder, and he was taking advantage of mental health treatment services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since the new administration took office, I know some changes will be made to mental health service offerings with the introduction of the ‘repeal and replace’ proposal. Do you know about any major changes that are being proposed? What can we do to plan for our son’s future well-being, should something happen to us?

Thanks,

Kahn Sernd

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Dear Kahn,

Currently, there is strong bipartisan commitment to continue strengthening mental health programs treatment services.  Over the past decade, Congress has enacted and presidents have signed a series of important reforms, including the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, and the 21st Century Cures Act.

Due to these laws, more Americans than ever before now have access to a full continuum of care options for mental health problems.  The challenge now is how to build on this progress.

According to “The Hill,” this is what is being done:

  • The Coalition for Whole Health (CWH), a group representing national organizations focused on mental health and substance use, has sent comprehensive recommendations to the administration and the 115th Congress, urging them to ensure that all healthcare policy proposals include several key elements.
  • Policymakers are being urged to maintain current legal requirements that the full range of mental health and substance use disorder services and medications are covered at parity with other health benefits in all private insurance and Medicaid coverage.
  • CWH is advising that Medicaid expansion has been a critical element of improving access to treatment. Nearly 29% of people covered by the expansion are living with a mental illness or substance use disorder.

For the millions of Americans covered by private insurance, policymakers are being urged to maintain premium and cost-sharing assistance so that people not only can afford to remain insured but also can access quality mental health services. Advocates are also urging that protections for people with pre-existing conditions should also be maintained.

For your son, if you haven’t done so already, you should consider a Special Needs Trust. A Special Needs Trust is an essential tool to protect a disabled individual’s financial future. This type of trust preserves eligibility for federal and state benefits by keeping assets out of the disabled person’s name. Click here for more details.

Purrs,

Angel

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