Share your Affordable Care Act (ACA) story
Republican lawmakers are moving forward with their plans to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with April 7 selected as their target date for approving repeal legislation. Without an equal or better replacement for the ACA, several key provisions of the law that help practicing psychologists and their patients could be in jeopardy. Millions of people could lose insurance coverage for mental health services.
One Practice Organization member reflects on their patient’s experience before the ACA:
“Prior to enactment of the ACA I had a patient who was 25 years old and didn't have health care coverage. Not only did he pay for his mental health treatment out of pocket, but developed some symptoms that landed him in a neurologist's office with concerns that he might have multiple sclerosis. Because of the ACA, he was able to obtain health insurance, which likely would have been denied due to his work-up with the neurologist.”
Solo practitioners also have benefited from expanded health care coverage under the ACA:
“As an independently practicing psychologist, I have never had access to group health care coverage. The health plans in the individual market had no obligation to offer coverage, and they would review my medical history and offer pricing based on their review. It was always in the back of my mind that if I developed a serious medical condition, my health plan could, and probably would, deny renewing my coverage at the end of the year. Thanks to the ACA, my plans were richer in benefits (e.g., no lifetime maximums, covered mental health and substance abuse treatment at parity) and were priced about the same as my pre-ACA plans. The ACA has been a lifesaver for me.”
The Practice Organization wants to hear from practicing psychologists about how the ACA has helped you, your family and your patients. Your experiences will help us inform members of Congress about the law's importance, and help inform our work on possible replacement legislation. Please share your story by sending a short email with the subject line “My Story” to the APA Practice Organization Government Relations Office.
For decades, APA and the Practice Organization, with the help of licensed psychologists, have worked with members of Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform that protects providers and patients from abusive insurance practices and expands coverage for mental health services. In 2010, former President Obama signed the ACA, which supports psychologists and mental health patients by:
- Requiring coverage of mental health and substance use disorder services, as part of a package of essential health benefits that all plans in the individual and small group insurance markets must cover.
- Applying parity protections under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) to health plans in the individual and small group insurance markets.
- Establishing an array of basic insurance protections for consumers, including prohibitions on use of lifetime/annual dollar coverage limits or pre-existing condition exclusions; guaranteed renewal of coverage and prohibition on rescinding coverage; requiring the use of effective appeals processes for coverage denials; a prohibition against participant or provider discrimination; and standards that ensure patients receive adequate health care without delay or unnecessary travel.
- Giving states the option of expanding Medicaid eligibility to individuals with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Requiring Medicaid plans for newly eligible individuals to provide coverage of mental health and substance use services at parity, in compliance with MHPAEA.
- Supporting a wide array of research, training and services through the Prevention and Public Health Fund, including state, tribal and campus youth suicide prevention programs and the Minority Fellowship Program within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Strengthening national efforts to address health disparities by improving data collection and reporting requirements, creating an office focused on minority health within several federal agencies, and establishing the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities to lead scientific research in the area.
The APA and the Practice Organization have joined a wide array of other groups in urging Congress not to repeal the ACA without simultaneously adopting a comprehensive replacement plan. For more information, email the APA Practice Organization Government Relations Office.