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Health Care Reform

UPDATE: After Supreme Court Victory for Health Insurance Reforms, Work Turns to the States for Now-Optional Medicaid Expansion. Read our analysis of the ruling (7/12).  Read our press release (6/12).


People with mental illnesses will significantly benefit from the health care law passed in 2010, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Insufficient insurance coverage has prevented many people with mental illnesses from obtaining needed treatment, and quality care is often hard to find.  The health care reform law addresses both these problems.  In addition to requiring that individuals obtain insurance coverage, the law:

  • Sets minimum standards for health insurance policies that can be purchased by businesses and individuals through state level Exchanges,
  • Makes significant improvements to Medicaid including expanding the number of people who can qualify for the extensive mental health services Medicaid covers,
  • Authorizes demonstrations and tests of approaches that it is hoped will improve the quality of health care in this country,
  • Creates several new options for long-term care of people with disabilities,
  • Expands Medicaid eligibility, allowing childless adults who are not classified as having a disability to qualify for the program (although these newly eligible individuals will not receive full benefits),
  • Improve coordination of primary care and mental health services for people using the public mental health system,
  • Encourage medical homes that address a person’s total health care needs, including mental health and substance abuse needs,
  • Greatly improves a Medicaid state option for home and community based services for people with disabilities, including those with serious mental illnesses, and
  • Expands Medicaid’s focus on home and community based care in several ways.

Many individuals with mental illnesses will now have access to health insurance that covers mental health and substance abuse services on a par with the coverage of medical and surgical care. Those who cannot afford insurance will qualify for subsidies that will help them pay for it. Insurers will have to meet certain requirements, including covering people regardless of any pre-existing condition.

Several other provisions in this law will also help people with mental illnesses, such as prevention programs, improvements to Medicare’s drug benefit, a new insurance plan for long-term community care, reauthorization of the children’s state health insurance program (SCHIP) along with other changes.

Check the side links for more information about the final law, implementation, and health reform resources.

See more information on Medicaid, Medicare, and Parity, including all changes as a result of health care reform.

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