Letter on Health Care Proposal

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March 7, 2017

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
H-232 Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader, United States Senate
S-230 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader, United States House of Representatives
H-204 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 220515

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader, United States Senate
S-221 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Schumer and House Minority Leader Pelosi:

Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Every year 1 in 5 Americans struggle with a mental illness and veterans account for 1 in 5 suicide deaths. 1.1 million Americans attempt suicide every year.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has set a bold goal to reduce the U.S. suicide rate 20% by 2025. Research has shown that treating the underlying mental health conditions that can lead to suicide is critical to preventing this tragic loss of life, which claims the lives of more than 43,000 Americans every year. Maintaining and increasing access to mental health and substance use treatment will help us achieve this 20% reduction in the suicide rate and save tens of thousands of lives.

As you consider making changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), AFSP urges you to keep important provisions that can help prevent suicide including:

  • Continued inclusion of mental health and substance use parity as an essential health benefit
  • Elimination of annual and lifetime caps
  • Preserving coverage of pre-existing conditions
  • Expanding access to care and preventive health coverage
  • Guaranteed coverage of people under their parent’s health plans up to the age of 26
  • Preserving funding of programs like Medicaid and Medicare to ensure access to mental health services for low income and elderly populations

We must ensure the gains we have made in mental health and substance use disorder coverage remain in place so every American has a path to a more healthy and productive life. Let us stand together to make this happen.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. AFSP has 85 chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. In addition AFSP has tens of thousands of grassroots volunteers who are very concerned about maintaining parity and equal access to mental health and addiction services.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or 202-449-3600 ext. 103. You can also contact Trevor Summerfield, AFSP’s Director of Federal Policy, at [email protected] or 202-449-3600 ext. 102.

Sincerely,

John H. Madigan, Jr.
Vice President and Chief Public Policy Officer

Robert Gebbia
Chief Executive Officer

Nancy Farrell
Chair, AFSP Public Policy Council