ARLINGTON, Va., June 22, 2017 – NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is deeply disappointed that the Senate health care bill unveiled today, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, will slash Medicaid benefits for critical mental health services millions of Americans need to lead productive lives.
While the Better Care Reconciliation Act has yet to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office, NAMI remains alarmed at the deep cuts to the Medicaid program that are in the Senate bill.
Medicaid is the largest source of funding for public mental health services in our nation. One-third of people covered by Medicaid expansion lives with a mental health or substance use condition and Medicaid serves as a lifeline for people with mental illness who typically fall through the cracks. It provides critical coverage so people have access and receive the mental health treatment they need to finish school, get back to work and contribute to their communities.
Along with the House-passed American Health Care Act, this legislation includes a misguided proposal to convert the Medicaid program to a “Per Capita Cap” for the states. This will result in devastating cuts to mental health services. In fact, the Senate bill includes an even lower annual adjustment to the cap than is in the House bill.
NAMI opposes this effort to decimate our nation’s already struggling mental health system. The Senate needs to focus on how we can improve mental health care for all Americans, including stabilizing the small group and individual insurance market in many states – not make structural reforms to Medicaid that will lead to massive cuts and loss of services for people living with mental illness.
NAMI is deeply concerned that the Better Care Reconciliation Act will force people with mental illness out of the health care coverage they need and on to the streets and into costly emergency rooms, hospitals and jails. We encourage Senators to reject this harmful bill, and instead, ensure that Americans have receive the mental health care they need to lead healthy and productive lives.