Newswise — WASHINGTON -- The Senate bill aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act would irreparably weaken Medicaid, significantly increase the number of Americans without health insurance coverage and allow states to waive essential health benefits, such as mental and behavioral health care and substance use treatment, according to the American Psychological Association.

“This so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act is actually worse than the bill passed by the House, because it would undermine Medicaid even more severely, if a little more slowly,” said APA President Antonio E. Puente, PhD. “This is extremely disappointing. Medicaid is a critical backstop of coverage for mental health treatment, and for millions of older Americans, children and individuals with disabilities. If the goal is to cover more people, why slash Medicaid when it is already much more cost-effective than private sector plans?”  

The American Psychological Association and its affiliated APA Practice Organization called on Congress to reject the Better Care Reconciliation Act, expected to come to a vote before the July 4th recess.  

Like the House-passed American Health Care Act, the Senate bill would allow states to waive the Affordable Care Act's essential health benefit requirement, and would dramatically increase premiums for older Americans. Before the Affordable Care Act was enacted, health plans in the individual and small group market often declined to cover mental health and substance use disorder services.  

APA and the APA Practice Organization urged Congress to pass health care legislation that would increase the number of Americans with mental health and substance use coverage. “APA is committed to achieving universal access to mental health and substance use services - at parity with physical health services - and ensuring access to prevention, early intervention, and health promotion services,” Puente said. 

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.

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