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OBAMACARE’S DEMISE IS A LOOMING DISASTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH

A recent CDC report shows that the percentage of adults with serious psychological distress who are uninsured has dropped from 28.1 percent in 2012 to 19.5 percent in the first nine months of 2015.

OBAMACARE’S DEMISE IS A LOOMING DISASTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH

AUTHOR: ISSIE LAPOWSKY

Look at a map of states president-elect Donald Trump won in November alongside a map of states with the highest rates of opioid prescriptions, and you’ll see they mostly overlap. Look more closely at the data, as one Penn State professor recently did, and you’ll find that Trump outperformed his Republican predecessor Mitt Romney the most in counties where opiate and suicide mortality rates are highest.

It’s little wonder, then, that mental health and substance abuse issues have become a key talking point for Trump, who has promised to crack down on drug cartels and called America’s mass shootings an issue of mental health—not guns.

He’s not the only Republican to adopt behavioral health as a priority. House Speaker Paul Ryan pushed for mental health legislation in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose home state of Kentucky is a leader in opioid deaths, recently penned an op-ed titled “More Must Be Done on Heroin – soon.” And the Republican-authored 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law in December, will set aside $1 billion over two years to fight opioid abuse.

And yet, late last week, Senate and House Republicans set in motion the first steps of a plan that researchers warn could cut mental health and substance abuse treatment off at the knees: the repeal of Obamacare.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the mental health community who thinks withdrawing the Affordable Care Act would be good for behavioral health,” says Sherry Glied, dean of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, who advised the George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations on health policy. “It’s hard to even conceive of how that would be true.”

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