National Healthcare Reform
Action Item: Tell your Congressperson to vote against any repeal of the national healthcare reform law. This law is the most important legislation ever enacted for people with mental illnesses.
- Just as there is no health without mental health, there is no mental health without health. The mental health system in Illinois and across the country is broken in part because our healthcare system is broken. Despite our wealth, the United States trails most industrialized countries in health outcomes and spends more money than these countries for this bad result. Every year we spend more money and fall further behind. In the most recent World Health Organization rankings, the United States is now 37th, behind even such less well off countries as Morocco
- While mental health policies made by our state government are extremely important, they exist in the context of the larger national picture. That picture includes Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance and the fact that there are 50 million American without health insurance and many more who are underinsured.
- Health insurance in the United States is commonly tied to employment. Unfortunately, a large percentage of persons with serious mental illnesses are unemployed. Thus, a disproportionate percentage of the 50 million uninsured in Illinois and the rest of the United States are persons with serious mental illnesses.
- Among the reasons why many people are uninsured is that insurance companies frequently deny coverage to persons with pre-existing health conditions. Because serious mental illnesses are often chronic conditions which often have a relatively early onset, these conditions often disqualify persons who have them from health insurance coverage
- Congress has passed an extremely complicated healthcare reform bill-the Affordable Care Act.
- There is an effort underway in Congress to repeal or substantially amend the Affordable Care Act.
- On July 29, 2010 Governor Quinn signed Executive Order #10-12 creating the Health Care Reform Implementation Council. Comments and suggestions may be provided to the Council on its website.
- In August, 2011, CMS announced a competitive grant program to allow free-standing private pyschiatric hospitals to provide emergency care to Medicaid recipients. (This was previously prohibitted under the "IMD" exclusion.
- Each state is required to create a health insurance exchange by October, 2013. Illinois recently enacted Public Act 97-0142 creating the Health Benefits Exchange Commission. The Commission's members include Senators Haine, Noland, Steans, Brady, Jones and Syverson and Representatives Davis, Harris, Mautino, Osmond, Sacia and Senger. This Commission will hold public hearings and develop legislation to implement this aspect of federal heatlhcare reform. Click here for a detailed analysis of health insurance exchanges. Click here for the federal rules governing health insurance exchanges.
Resources on Healthcare Reform
"Healthcare Reform is Expected to Reduce Healthcare Disparities" Chicago Department of Health (October, 2010)