A note from NAMI Arkansas Executive Director Kim Arnold
President Obama’s re-election recently and the Supreme Court Health Law Decision earlier this summer means the Affordable Care Act continues implementation and it has important implications for all, including people living with mental illness. A few things not always mentioned are some covered preventive screenings and services that include, depending on age:
- Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol test.
- Many cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies.
- Counseling on quitting smoking (smoking cessation), losing weight, and eating healthfully.
- Regular well-baby and well-child visits, from birth to age 21.
- Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio, or meningitis.
- Counseling, screening and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies.
- Flu and pneumonia shots.
These items are critical when we think of recovery and wellness, especially when research indicates persons with serious mental illness die, on average, 25 years earlier than those without serious mental illness.
Other areas within the law are also important, such as:
- Mental health and substance use disorder coverage at parity.
- No more pre-existing conditions exclusions or annual limits.
- Closing the Medicare Donut Hole (entirely by 2020).
- Expansion of a Medicaid option to pay for home and community based services for people living with serious mental illness, known as the 1915-i option.
- A new option in Medicaid to fund “health home” models of care, which coordinate a wide range of health care needs for people living with chronic medical conditions, including serious mental illness.
- Expanded insurance coverage through insurance ‘exchanges’ and through expanded Medicaid programs.
The last item is very important. The Medicaid Expansion ruling from the Supreme Court gave states the choice to expand or not expand Medicaid eligibility. However, the incentive for the expansion is
financially significant to states and that would hold true for Arkansas also. The Affordable Care Act provides 100% federal funding for a state’s expanded Medicaid population between 2014 and 2016
then gradually reduces to 90% federal funding by 2020. That level of federal funding is far higher than what is available to our existing persons in Arkansas on Medicaid. Knowledge is power.
You can learn more about the Affordable Care Act at www.healthcare.gov, http://healthreform.kff.org/, and http://www.cbo.gov/.