The American Counseling Association has joined with over 100 mayors and other partners in the Cities Thrive Coalition in urging leaders in Congress to “build upon, not tear down, the progress that has been made to our behavioral health system through the Affordable Care Act.”
In a letter to Senators McConnell and Schumer, Congressman Ryan, and Congresswoman Pelosi, coalition members emphasized the following:
With one in five Americans suffering from a mental health related issue, and those with mental illness disproportionately represented among the uninsured, the reforms brought about by the ACA were a monumental turning point. The ACA created numerous protections for our residents with mental illness and addiction, including:
- Expanding mental health substance use disorder benefits and parity
- Providing coverage for preventive services, like screening for depression and other behavioral assessments at no additional cost
- Preventing insurers from denying coverage based upon pre-existing conditions
- Adding mental health and addiction treatment to the ten essential health benefits
- Allowing for prescription coverage for behavioral health treatments
- Expanding Medicaid, which has allowed 11 million people to gain access to mental health and addiction treatments.
The letter stated that eliminating these reforms would create dire consequences for vulnerable citizens who would be faced with the sudden inability to pay for mental health services because of both the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the loss of Medicaid Expansion funds. The letter concluded by saying, “We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to continue to move our behavioral health system forward for all Americans.”
Cities Thrive is a new national mental health coalition committed to driving mental health reform on a local and national level across the country. Elected officials, public health advocates, mental health professionals, and healthcare associations have joined together to advocate for improved mental health programs and to share what works in their jurisdictions and practices.
The American Counseling Association is working with coalitions—as the nation’s leading voice on counseling—to let the incoming Administration know the importance of counselors in improving the mental health of millions of Americans, and the importance of the federal programs now in place to providing access to counseling services.