From the Washington Post:
The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach recently described the nation’s opioid crisis as “a decentralized disaster that authorities understand they cannot solve with handcuffs and prison bars alone.” Indeed, pretty much everyone, up to and including President Trump, who calls the epidemic a public health emergency, agrees that it requires novel solutions.
Too bad Trump’s administration won’t use a tool that is immediately available and could bring treatment to millions of Americans.
Nearly a decade ago, our country took a remarkable step forward on behavioral care. With the passage of the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, Congress said group health insurance plans and insurance issuers that provide benefits for mental health and substance use disorders cannot treat such benefits more restrictively than they treat other medical services. This protection was subsequently expanded in the Affordable Care Act, which provided that opioid addiction, depression, anxiety and other behavioral conditions must get the same level of coverage as physical health claims. The ACA also extended the parity requirement to individual plans and included behavioral health coverage as an “essential health benefit” in ACA plans.
But many Americans are suffering without getting the treatment they need because for-profit insurance companies are finding ways to deny it.