#CostsOfRepeal: Congressman Paulsen Would Deny Mental Health Coverage For 990,000 Minnesotans

Congressman Erik Paulsen’s obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act could mean that 60 million Americans would lose coverage and face discrimination for mental health illness, including 990,000 people in Minnesota. In fact, Congressman Paulsen’s repeal plan would throw Americans back into the old broken system, where insurance companies were free to refuse coverage for mental health services and discriminate against patients suffering from mental illness.

Congressman Paulsen and House Republicans’ plan to repeal the ACA would end this expanded coverage for the one in five adults who experience mental illness every year, and give insurance companies free rein to deny them any health coverage at all.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover mental health and substance abuse disorder services as an essential medical service, meaning 60 million Americans would be denied the largest expansion of mental health coverage in a generation. The law also prohibits insurers from denying coverage to patients or charging them more because of a preexisting mental health condition.

“This is a pocketbook issue for American families – with one in five adults facing some form of mental illness, Congressman Paulsen would let insurance companies discriminate against them and deny essential care to 990,000 Minnesotans with his reckless repeal plan,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Congressman Paulsen’s obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act would take us back to a broken system, putting insurance companies back in charge and giving them free rein to discriminate against Americans with mental health issues. Americans suffering from mental illness face enough hurdles to getting the services they need, and they cannot afford Congressman Paulsen’s obsessive repeal that would put their families at risk instead of fixing our broken system.”

BACKGROUND

The Affordable Care Act Prevents Insurance Companies from Denying Coverage to those with Mental Health Issues. “Under the law, insurers must now pay for many things that used to be optional, like prescription drugs, having a baby, and mental health care, among other services. […] Obama’s signature health care legislation addresses this problem in explicit terms. Under the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, mental health and substance abuse services are classified among the 10 ‘Essential Health Benefits.’ Health insurance marketplaces cannot apply yearly or lifetime dollar limits on coverage of these benefits. The marketplaces also cannot deny anyone coverage or charge more for pre-existing conditions. […] Under the ACA, health plans are required to cover preventative services, including behavioral assessments for children, at no additional cost. Coverage will also include behavioral health treatment, such as psychotherapy, and substance abuse treatment – both for inpatient and outpatient care.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/22/13