Nation’s Largest Suicide Prevention Organization Expresses Concern Over the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017

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WASHINGTON (JUNE 27, 2017) – The United States Senate drafted legislation last week, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, the counterpart to H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, today released this statement:

“We applaud Congress for continually trying to improve our health care system. We caution the Senate as they proceed, to do so with care, as millions of American lives are at stake. We must ensure Americans living with mental health conditions or who struggle with addiction have access to affordable health care and treatment. In order to reduce the nation’s suicide rate, there are four distinct sections within the legislation which need to change so that those who are at greatest risk for suicide are ensured including:

  1. Essential health benefits – the bill language would allow states to eliminate mental health and substance abuse treatment as an essential health benefit
  2. Out-of-pocket expenses – the draft language would prohibit annual and lifetime caps on coverage, however, the draft has no language that addresses reasonable caps on annual out-of-pocket expenses. This could drive up out-of-pocket costs which could prevent people from getting affordable coverage
  3. Medicaid funding – the current draft would give states a per-capita amount beginning in 2021. This could lead to increases in the number of uninsured and reduced access to mental health and substance abuse treatment
  4. Addressing the opioid crisis – the draft bill provides minimal resources, $2 billion in 2018, short of the $15 billion provided by the AHCA

There are three key provisions within the legislation we hope make it into the final draft, because of their significant contribution to the fight to #StopSuicide including:

  • Young people, up to the age of 26, staying on their parents’ health insurance plan
  • Prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • Maintaining a ban on annual and lifetime limits for health coverage

We will continue to monitor the legislation and hope that our nation’s leaders can work together to find a solution to address these gaps contained in BCRA so we can preserve and improve upon services and coverage for people living with mental illness, and ultimately prevent suicide.”

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

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