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May 7, 2019Advocacy Matters

Listen to Advocacy Matters: Mental Health Awareness Month

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

May 7, 2019

#AdvocacyMatters Segment

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, advocates have organized outreach and training activities across the country.  These activities are important.  Mental health advocacy reduces stigma.  When Individuals with mental illness, our family members and allies speak out it helps by raising awareness and reducing the stigma we face in the community, at work, and in school.

In Pennsylvania, a coalition of organizations are hosting the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference.  The groups include UPMC Health Plan, Beacon, Magellan Health Care, and more.  A link to the conference information is posted on our website.

As disability advocates, one of our biggest policy challenges is protecting the gains made in mental health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare).

We can’t forget that before the Affordable Care Act was law, access to mental health care coverage in insurance was lacking.  Mental health was considered a pre-existing condition.  If you did have private insurance, your coverage for services was limited.

Threats to repeal all or part of the ACA are real, and challenges continue to be filed in courts along with the introduction of new repeal legislation.

On the positive side, Medicaid expansion in most of our states will have provided insurance to more than 32 million previously underinsured or uninsured people by 2020.  32 million more individuals will now have access to mental health care services under Medical expansion.

The Affordable Care Act required insurance companies to offer mental health and addiction treatment as one of the ten essential benefits with no annual cap on lifetime dollar limits in the exchanges.

The ACA health care plans cover prescription medications, including prescriptions to cover behavioral health medications.

The Affordable Care Act also required mental health parity in insurance plans sold on the exchange.  That means if you purchased insurance through the ACA exchange marketplace, you had parity in your physical health and mental health coverage.

#AdvocacyMattes. Let’s protect the ACA and access to mental health coverage.  Click on the link below to send a letter to your members of congress and let them know that the ACA is important to persons with mental illness.