Tag Archives: Obamacare

Will Addiction Treatment Be Eliminated from Obamacare Requirements?

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a federal rule late Friday aimed at giving states more flexibility in interpreting the Affordable Care Act’s “Essential Health Benefits” mandate as a way “to lower the cost of individual and small group health plans.”

Perhaps most notably, CMS’ proposed rule would allow states to alter their essential health benefits benchmark plan annually, beginning as early as 2019.

The Affordable Care Act set forth ten (10) categories of essential health benefits, including mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

“Consumers who have specific health needs may be impacted by the proposed policy,” the agency said. “In the individual and small group markets, depending on the selection made by the state in which the consumer lives, consumers with less comprehensive plans may no longer have coverage for certain services. In other states, again depending on state choices, consumers may gain coverage for some services.”

The agency in 2017 proposed standardized health plan options as a way to simplify shopping for consumers on the federally run marketplaces. The CMS said it would eliminate standardized options for 2019 to maximize innovation. “We believe that encouraging innovation is especially important now, given the stresses faced by the individual market,” the proposed rule states.

The Trump administration hopes to relax the ACA’s requirements and provide as much state flexibility as possible through administrative action, following the collapse of congressional Republican efforts this year to make those changes legislatively.

However, the EHB benchmark plans for mental health/substance abuse must comply with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (“Parity Act”).

While we do not believe that any state can eliminate or reduce benefits for drug and alcohol treatment, by reducing benefits for other medical health care counterparts, they could strategically and effectively compromise reimbursements, even under the Parity Act.

The 2019 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (PDF), released Friday.

The Positive Economic Impact of the Treatment Industry and Recovery Community

The health care industry is the job engine of many parts of the U.S., aided by funding as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Florida, California, Texas, and other states are no different, specifically and including the number of well-paying jobs for professionals and para-professionals in the drug and alcohol treatment industry.

While some cities would prefer not to have treatment providers and recovery residences in their jurisdiction, that really cutting off the proverbial nose to spite one’s face.

We don’t have the numbers (yet) but no one will doubt the major economic driver that the treatment and housing industry is for the South Florida region.

According to a newly-released report by the New York Times in relation to Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act:

“Whatever happens, the economy of every state will be affected. Across the country, the health care industry has become a ceaseless job producer — for doctors, nurses, paramedics, medical technicians, administrators and health care aides. Funding that began flowing in 2012 as a result of the Affordable Care Act created at least a half-million jobs, according to an analysis by Goldman Sachs.”.

Similarly, universities such as Florida Atlantic, University of Miami, and Nova Southeastern, that have strong social work and other behavioral clinical programs, rely upon the robust treatment industry and recovery community for employment for their graduating students.

An economic impact review by the American Hospital Association concluded that workers’ earnings combined with their spending on groceries, clothing and the like generate millions of dollars per year in economic activity and helped create thousands of jobs beyond their own. “The goods and services hospitals purchase from other businesses create additional economic value for the community. With these “ripple effects” included, each hospital job supports about two additional jobs, and every dollar spent by a hospital supports roughly $2.30 of additional business activity.”

Similar results apply to the robust treatment and housing industry within Palm Beach County and throughout Florida, as well as the rest of the nation.

In the effort to regulate the treatment and housing industry, we have used chemotherapy to rid the scourge of bad players from the playing field. However, in doing so, we may have found that many good providers have been scared off too, fearful that regulators and law enforcement are using this is a pre-text at the behest of the electorate, where one may be able to “beat the rap” but will be unable to “beat the ride.”

In the meantime, recognition of the positive economic benefit that this industry has on Florida and the entire nation should be further studied, recognized, and supported.

The alternative is to eliminate the entire system, and to leave those suffering with no alternatives whatsoever.