Friday, July 6, 2012

Supreme Court Ruling Huge for Mental Health Care

The Supreme Court ruled on June 28 to uphold the majority of the federal health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including important protections for people with mental illnesses. Thanks to the ruling, Utah will be able to continue moving forward to establish a health insurance exchange, which under the law, must include coverage for mental health care and must adhere to the mental health parity law. People buying health insurance in these exchanges may qualify for premium subsidies or financial help to ensure they can afford the coverage they need.
Utah will also be able to go ahead with plans to expand to Medicaid to cover all who have annual incomes up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines ($15,400) and who are not certified as disabled. Many of the people who will benefit from this change, which takes effect in 2014, live with a mental illness but are not considered 'disabled' and this is an important move to ensure they can access the treatment and services they need.

The court's decision will mean that children and young adults can remain on their parent’s health insurance plans until age 26 as well. This is typically the largest group of people who are without insurance and an age when people often experience their first psychotic episode.  New plans will also have to offer preventive services, such as mental health screenings, at no cost to the individual.  The court’s ruling will ensure people will be able to access the screening and treatment they need, when they need it.  The court also upheld a provision barring insurance companies from denying people coverage because they have a pre-existing condition, including a mental illness. This means that people will no longer be unable to obtain health insurance simply because they live with a mental illness nor will they be able to be charged much higher premiums based on their health status. The ruling is a huge victory for the mental health community and NAMI Utah applauds the Supreme Court for upholding these important provisions of the health reform law. For a detailed analysis of the implications of the decision, visit SCOTUSBlog.
For additional reading on the ACA and mental health care in Utah click HERE.