Emergency Nurses Association Opposes Senate Legislation to Repeal ACA Without Significant Improvements
July 25, 2017 • Legislation News
Although the legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still being finalized, the Senate should defeat any proposal that does not protect access to emergency care or coverage for mental health and substance abuse patients.
In any major change to our health care system, it is essential that the guarantee of insurance coverage for emergency care be maintained. The ACA included emergency services as an essential health benefit, a commonsense provision since patients should not be penalized – either financially or by denial of care - for seeking critical care in a hospital emergency department.
Moreover, ENA is deeply concerned that legislation that will be voted on by the Senate eliminates health insurance for millions of mental health and substance abuse patients. Like emergency services, mental health and substance abuse treatment were one of the 10 essential health benefit categories included in the ACA. Senators should strongly oppose any legislation that does away with guaranteed coverage for these services.
In addition, the proposals under consideration make significant cuts to the Medicaid program, which is a source of insurance for more than 74 million Americans. Medicaid is the single largest payer of mental health services in the United States. Significant reductions in the Medicaid program will result in additional uninsured behavioral health patients utilizing their local emergency department for care.
When the Senate takes up health care legislation in the coming days or weeks, we urge them to include language that protects access to emergency care, as well as mental health and substance abuse treatment. Without these improvements, ENA calls on senators to oppose any effort to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act.