Obamacare Repeal Would Hit Drug, Mental Health Coverage

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As Congress works to repeal the Affordable Care Act with the support of President-elect Donald Trump, people with addiction and mental health disorders, their families and treatment providers wonder how patients would maintain their sobriety and psyches without insurance coverage, USA Today reports. The people helped the most by the ACA are the ones most likely to suffer from poor mental health and addiction. Nearly 30 percent of those who got coverage through Medicaid expansion have a mental disorder, such as anxiety or schizophrenia, or an addiction to substances, such as opioids or alcohol, says the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That compares to more than 20 percent of the overall population.

In New Hampshire, which has the nation’s ighest synthetic opioid death rate, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is reminding Trump about some of his campaign promises in her state. “He pledged to take on this crisis, not immediately make matters much worse,” Shaheen said. “Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement is highly reckless and will come at a high cost for people struggling with substance use disorders.” Chicago’s Cook County jail is often referred to as the largest U.S. mental health facility. Up to 30 percent of the 9,000 or more inmates in the jail have a diagnosed mental illness. “The ACA has been a game changer for those who are in and out of Cook County Jail,” says Mark Ishaug of Thresholds, a community-based mental health and addiction services provider. He says poor people of color, especially single men, were finally able to keep health coverage once they left the jail. About a third of Threshold’s 15,000 clients became eligible for coverage through the ACA.

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