I am writing this not as a Democrat or Republican, but a person. A person who happens to live with a mental illness. I don’t understand why Congress is passing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) without a plan in place. I can even understand why there are people that don’t like the ACA. I think some of the premiums are not affordable and there is work to be done to make much-needed improvements. I am even open to a complete replacement if it is better. But, to repeal it without a plan could be devastating especially for those that live with mental illness. Treating a mental illness is difficult. It can take years to find the right medication combination and doctor. Any delay or lapse in treatment could cause harm.
Many people don’t know that the ACA expanded Medicaid in several states including California. This means if you repeal the law, you are essentially taking away mental health services from low-income families and individuals. I am heartbroken at the thought of that.
Right now under the ACA those that have pre-existing conditions can get the same coverage as everyone else. They can’t be denied or discriminated against. I can’t tell you how much this means to the mental health community. I used to live in constant fear of losing coverage and not being able to get my medications. In addition, before the ACA many did not seek treatment for mental health because getting a diagnosis would put them into the category of pre-existing conditions.
I know that those in congress that want to repeal the ACA are saying they will provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, but it might not be the same. I have heard that some plans want to put people with pre-existing conditions in a high-risk pool. That coverage could be different, more expensive and sub-standard. Change in coverage may stop people from seeking a mental health diagnosis because it would put them in that high-risk pool. Therefore, they will not get the treatment they so desperately need. I can tell you from experience, the earlier you seek treatment for mental health conditions the better.
Healthcare is not a handout. For the mentally ill it is literally a lifeline. Healthcare allows me to keep my job, pay taxes and contribute to society. It doesn’t matter who you voted for, this will affect all of us. We need to let Congress know that repealing the ACA without a solid plan in place is not acceptable. Call your Congressperson and tell them passing legislation for a replacement plan is imperative before you repeal the ACA. Use social media and repost this. I hope you will join me in protecting vital mental health services for those who need it most.
Written by Maggie Newcomb author of Chocolate Pudding in Heaven, The Intriguing Journey Of My Bipolar Mind.