LAC’s op-ed in The Hill calls for healthcare coverage for the millions of Americans affected by addiction and mental illness

LAC Director and President Paul Samuels co-wrote an op-ed with Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director at National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, on The Hill entitled “1 in 3 Americans is affected by addiction or mental illness: We need a plan to protect their care”.

Published on March 10, 2017, the article “1 in 3 Americans is affected by addiction or mental illness: We need a plan to protect their care” discusses the need to address mental health and substance use disorders as policymakers propose and evaluate new legislative changes to the ACA.

“Unlike many challenges that face our Nation, there is strong bipartisan commitment to continue strengthening mental health and substance use prevention, treatment services and medications, rehabilitation, and recovery support services. Over the past decade, Congress has enacted and Presidents have signed a series of important reforms, including the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, and the 21st Century Cures Act. Together, these laws established a very important new framework that, for the first time in our Nation’s history, addresses mental health and substance use disorders on a par equal to physical illnesses,” the article notes.

The major concern now at hand is how to build upon that progress moving forward as countless American lives depend on it. “Every single day, over 266 Americans will die from either a drug overdose or suicide…Untreated mental health and substance use problems can be devastating and costly – for individuals, families, communities and society as a whole.”

Samuels and Manderscheid note, “From the campaign trail, Donald Trump spoke passionately about the need to do more, saying ‘[I]t is tragedy enough that so many Americans are struggling with life-threatening addiction. We should not compound that tragedy with government policies and bureaucratic rules that make it even harder for them to get help.’”

Turning that passion into a real plan of action is the work that lies ahead, and as co-chair of the Coalition for Whole Health, a group of national organizations advocating for policies to increase access to quality mental health and substance use care, LAC was proud to participate in sending the Trump administration and the 115th Congress a comprehensive set of recommendations detailing ways to do so.

“Done right, it will not only save countless lives, but also hundreds of billions of dollars.  Surely, that is an investment we all can support.”

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