April 3, 2017  — Categorized in: ,

We Must Advocate For Older Adults With Behavioral Health Conditions

By Kimberly Williams, MSSW, Lisa Furst, LMSW, MPH, and Michael Friedman, LMSW

As of this writing, the healthcare and behavioral health systems are facing unprecedented threats from proposed legislation to significantly roll back the gains achieved through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Medicaid is also under threat, as the current legislative proposal attempts to alter its funding structure to block grants or “per capita” funding to the states without the proportional federal funding match.  The proposed changes not only threaten to severely restrict, if not eliminate, some people’s ability to access behavioral health care, and are particularly likely to affect older adults.  For example, while the ACA requires behavioral health care to be an “essential” covered service by all insurance carriers, such a requirement is not guaranteed under the current legislative proposal.  In addition, “younger” older adults (for example, those aged 55-64 who are not yet eligible for Medicare) who may have gained behavioral health care either by becoming eligible for Medicaid under the ACA, or who purchased insurance through a state or the federal exchange, may not be able to access care if they are unable to afford to buy insurance with the proposed tax credits, which are significantly less generous than ACA subsidies.   Inability to access care may also result if older adults live in states that have to curtail eligibility for Medicaid or reduce covered benefits as they struggle under decreased overall funding for services. [click here for the full article]


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