On April 20, 2017, it was announced that an amendment to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was being proposed. The amendment was authored by Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). On April 25, 2017, the full language of the amendment was released. You can read it here.
It’s not great. It gives the states the ability to strip away all the gains in mental health parity that were guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Here’s two reasons why you need to call your congressperson now and tell them that the MacArthur Amendment must be stopped:
The new language allows states to apply for waivers of the Essential Health Benefits clause of ACA, in order to reduce premium costs. Before the ACA, mental healthcare was NOT required to be covered by any insurance policy, including state Medicaid. The MacArthur Amendment would allow states again to remove mental healthcare from policies to save money. By the way – it could remove women’s health benefits too, like prenatal and other OB care.
Health Status Underwriting Waivers
This language would allow states to take high risk people – read, folks with pre-existing conditions – and put them into a high risk pool where premiums for anyone with a pre-existing condition could skyrocket. This waiver would remove the clause in ACA that prohibits insurance companies from charging folks with pre-existing conditions more. So, yet again, a chronic medical condition could bankrupt you.
Call your congressperson – click here to find out his or her number. Be polite, but tell them – My child has a serious mental illness that requires lifetime treatment. The MacArthur amendment would allow my state to take away my child’s mental healthcare, or increase premiums for this pre-existing condition to the point where we could not afford his or her treatment. Please vote NO on the American Health Care Act and the MacArthur Amendment. Calling works better than letters.