On Tuesday, March 14, CWLA sent a letter to Capitol Hill opposing the American Health Care Act. Citing the new Congressional Budget Office analysis, in the letter, CWLA President and CEO Chris James-Brown points out the importance of expanded mental health and substance abuse services saying,

The availability of health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the expansion of Medicaid, has strengthened millions of families by improving their access to health care.  Most critical to many of these families is access to adequate substance abuse treatment and mental health services.  The need for substance abuse treatment and mental health services in order to reduce the need for foster care is not new to child welfare…”

Other points emphasized in the letter:

  • Recent HHS analysis suggesting a rise in parental substance use is likely a major factor driving up the number of children in foster homes.
  • More than $5.5 billion annually in substance use and mental health services has been made available due to the ACA
  • AFCARS data indicating that drug abuse by the parent as the primary reason for the child’s removal in 32 percent of cases, and a parent’s inability to cope a factor in a child’s removal in 14 percent of cases.
  • A full repeal of the ACA would result in a loss of coverage for 2.8 million people with a substance use disorder, including 220,000 people who have an opioid addiction. Additionally, it would eliminate mental health coverage to 1.2 million people with a serious mental health disorder.
  • Medicaid pays for 49.5 percent of medication-assisted treatment in Ohio, 44.7 percent in West Virginia, and 44 percent in Kentucky

The letter was formally sent to the House Budget Committee which passed the bill and sent it onto the next steps on Thursday.