Tuesday, 07 March 2017

The ACA and Mental Health/Substance Abuse Treatment: What Lies Ahead?

Affordable Care Act

Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) lists mental health and substance abuse treatment as one of ten “essential benefits” that all private insurers and Medicaid must cover, more patients have been receiving treatment. Of the 20 million people who gained health insurance coverage under the ACA, an estimated 29 percent have a diagnosable mental illness, substance use disorder, or both. An estimated 2.8 million people with substance use disorders, including 220,000 with opioid disorders, have coverage under the ACA.

Just a few days after his inauguration, President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by signing an executive action that set the stage for repeal of the ACA. Since that point, legislators have been wrangling over the law’s replacement. We know that healthcare practitioners who treat substance abuse are watching carefully as the complex debate continues to unfold. Those of us who provide treatment have many questions, and the answers will affect how we offer services down the road:

  • On the stump, President Trump promised both to rid the country of the ACA and to address the opioid epidemic and expand access to drug treatment. How will he accomplish all of those goals?
  • Although the GOP-led Congress states it wants to abolish the ACA, it has yet to share a clear plan for replacement. How will a replacement plan handle mental health and substance abuse treatment?
  • Although Congress has voted to repeal the ACA, several state legislators – including Republicans – have called for increased treatment options, citing their own personal experience watching loved ones battle addiction. Will those state leaders push back at Congress’ repeal efforts?
  • The ACA requires parity in covering mental health and substance use disorder services. What does ACA repeal mean for this long-fought issue?
  • The ACA prohibits denial of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions – including mental illness. President Trump has indicated he’ll maintain that ACA provision. Will Congress agree?
  • The 21st Century Cures Act passed in December with bipartisan support. The law expands regulations that mandate parity and includes funding to fight opioid abuse. How would dismantling the ACA affect that law?

During a late February healthcare conference in Florida, former House Speaker John Boehner predicted that a full repeal and replace of the ACA is “not what’s going to happen.” His comments raise further uncertainty about the landscape that providers will face over the coming years.

ClinicTracker understands the ins and outs of substance abuse practices. As laws and regulations evolve, ClinicTracker’s experts keep a close eye on how these changes may impact business needs. No matter what changes come in this uncertain time, rest assured that ClinicTracker will continue to future-proof your agency so you can focus your energies on providing treatment.

About ClinicTracker

ClinicTracker is a robust, future-proof mental health and substance abuse EHR. Dr. Michael Gordon, a renowned clinical psychologist, and Joshua Gordon, an award-winning software engineer, founded the company in 2000. ClinicTracker EHR’s powerful software empowers your agency to succeed. ClinicTracker will automate all of your clinic routines, boost staff productivity, increase billing efficiency, and provide the tools you need to manage your clinic effectively. While mental health and substance abuse agencies are the most common group of users, foster care agencies, social services, equine assisted therapy programs, university clinics, academic counseling systems, family counseling services, and eating disorder clinics also take advantage of our powerful software.

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