Donald Trump’s Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Could Jeopardize the Treatment of Mental Illness & Addiction

When the Affordable Care Act was passed seven years ago, the provisions under the new health care law ensured that people suffering from addiction or mental illness received the care they need. According to reports by USA Today, nearly 30 percent of people who qualified for coverage through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act were those who suffered from some form of mental disorder or addiction. Today, those numbers are in serious jeopardy as President Trump and the Republican controlled Congress plan to repeal parts or all of the Affordable Care Act.

If President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress are successful in repealing all of the Affordable Care Act, 30 million people in the United States would lose their health-care coverage. If the repeal rolls back the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, those who suffer from mental illness could lose all of their coverage, including prescription drug coverage. Tens of millions of people in the U.S. today with mental disorders rely on their prescription drug coverage just to function on a daily basis.
One of President Trump’s first acts as president was to sign an executive order that seeks the “prompt” repeal of Obamacare. However, the executive order did stipulate that the government will uphold the law until there are significant rollbacks approved by Congress and signed by the president. The executive order did not immediately change the law, but President Trump made it clear that he plans on pursuing and replacing the law.

Opioid Epidemic in the United States

The United States is facing an epidemic due to opioid addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 people in the United States die from an opioid overdose. One of the biggest challenges the country faces in the treatment of opioid addiction is the prescribing of opioids. When a patient is addicted to opioids, and they are unable to obtain a prescription, they turn to street drugs such as synthetic marijuana and heroin. People who are actively seeking treatment for their addiction rely on medications that help treat the underlying physical addiction to opioids. If Congress and the president repeal the Affordable Care Act and those patients are no longer covered, there could be a whole new epidemic on the country’s hands.

There may be a small light at the end of the tunnel if the country faces a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. There are several replacement plans under review that would protect the pre-existing condition laws under the Affordable Care Act. However, many of those plans may require that patients also find or buy another health insurance policy. The bottom line is that more people suffering from addiction or mental illness sought treatment under the Affordable Care Act. A repeal of the law would jeopardize the progress being made to help treat those individuals and only hurt the current fight against the opioid epidemic. The CDC estimates that since 2000, more than half a million people have died from an opioid overdose. Those are frightening numbers since the CDC states that there is no overall change in the amount of Americans who reported pain during that time.


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