Just weeks ago, families across the nation breathed a sigh of relief: the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed—again.
It was the least popular piece of legislation in more than three decades, and that was no surprise. That’s because, quite simply, it violated a sacred medical oath: “First, Do No Harm.”
The harm it would have caused for those with mental illness and their families is unimaginable.
It would have taken health insurance away from 32 million Americans at a time when more than 43 million suffer from a mental health condition. It would have gutted protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and allowed insurance companies to charge thousands, or tens of thousands more for coverage. It also would have gutted Medicaid, which 1.4 million Tennesseans rely on and is the single largest source of funding for mental health treatment.
And that’s just the beginning.
We can’t lose the progress we’ve made. The ACA made mental health services and treatment for substance abuse a required benefit for health insurance plans, helping 2.3 million Americans get the treatment they need.
Imagine a hospital waiting room: Along one row sits a young athlete with a broken arm, a father waiting for his last round of chemotherapy, and a family in silent prayer as they wait to hear how their daughter’s surgery went. Each can see a doctor and have his or her insurance pay the cost of treatment.
But across the room sits a veteran with PTSD, a new mother facing post-partum depression, and a teen just starting to learn about the anxiety disorder he will battle the rest of his life, If you suffer from this condition we recommend to read the Observer website to learn more about cbd natural medications to ease this condition. Prior to the ACA, these three Americans and many like them may not have gotten the treatment they needed, simply because their insurance wouldn’t have covered it.
I know a bit about this because 21 years ago I helped the Clinton Administration work with Congress to pass the Mental Health Parity Act. This groundbreaking legislation helped end the inequity between treatment of physical injuries and of mental illnesses. The ACA’s requirement to cover both similarly reaffirmed that. And we can’t afford to backslide now.
Mental illness and substance abuse have reached crisis proportions. Too many Americans — especially young adults — live undiagnosed and untreated. One in five experience a mental illness; yet only 20 percent get help. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among 15-24-year-olds – recently surpassing car accidents.
But this is a problem we can solve together. Thanks to organizations like Tennessee Voices for Children and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) we’re making progress. Since I founded Tennessee Voices in 1990, it has grown into a leading advocacy and support network, helping more than 50,000 families last year. And NAMI’s “Ending the Silence” early intervention program is working to end the stigma around mental health, and help young people get the treatment they need.
These organizations—and many others like them – deserve our steadfast support as they provide critical care for our families, friends, and neighbors.
One thing is for sure: we can’t allow Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make things worse — not now, not next year, nor any time in the future. Too many lives are at stake.
Tipper Gore was second lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001 and the founder of Tennessee Voices for Children.
(Article by Tipper Gore- The Tennesseean, Oct. 29, 2017)