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Consumer Groups Say GOP Healthcare Bill May Lead To Loss Of Coverage For Substance Abuse Treatment

Mar 24, 2017

The Republican-proposed American Healthcare Act has some consumer groups speaking out saying that the bill may threaten access to essential health benefits like maternity care, or mental health services, which are covered under the Affordable Care Act. 

Some consumer groups say the bill may also impact another essential health benefit…treatment for substance abuse disorders.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Mexico has recently seen lower overdose deaths involving natural and semi-synthetic opioids with 223 deaths in 2014 there falling to 160 deaths in 2015.

New Mexico was one of the states that did decided to expand Medicaid, and according to a New Mexico Legislative Finance Medicaid Accountability Report; Medicaid has covered 898,000 people in the state as of January 2017, with 263,000 in the expansion population.

Alice Dembner, Director of the Substance Use Disorders Project with Community Catalyst, a consumer watch group says changes to Medicaid funding formulas in the proposed GOP Bill may impact states like New Mexico who have seen high opioid-related deaths.

“So what could result is a lot of people are thrown off coverage or no longer have those benefits, or the state is going to have to find that money elsewhere,” says Dembner.

Dembner says states like New Mexico that are dealing with a budget crisis and less federal matching money may end up leaving less people insured, which may lead to fatal outcomes if people cannot get access to the life-saving treatment they need.

The congressional budget office’s report on the proposed American Healthcare Act estimates that 24 million people may be without health insurance in 2026 due to repealing the individual mandate, along with changes to subsidies in the individual market and Medicaid.