Affordable Care Act

Disability activists protest in Israel and D.C.

This was a busy week for protestors expressing concerns on disability healthcare and economic allowances. Today in Washington, D.C. dozens of protestors voiced objection to the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill during congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. Many protestors, including ones using wheelchairs, were forcibly removed by Capitol Police.

Meanwhile in Israel protestors on Sunday blocked a major highway through Tel Aviv in protest of stagnant disability allowances. Israeli local paper Haaretz is tracking the ongoing story, click here to learn more.

New America Media

Disability Advocate Speaks Out on New California Care Program

Disability advocate Pamela Hoye expressed hope and concerns about a new demonstration project under the Affordable Care Act for low-income seniors and those with disabilities at a recent New American Media ethnic briefing.

Hoye, who has cerebral palsy, said the “continuity of care provisions” under the program (called Cal MediConnect in Calif.) could ease concern but will not replace important trust that’s built between existing doctor-patient relationships. Hoye also raised questions about whether individuals’ needs and preferences would be honored when choosing primary care doctors or “imposed on us by bureaucratic red tape and protocols.”

Read more about Cal MediConnect and Hoye’s analysis here.

Boston Globe

US ‘on the cusp’ of mental health advances, Biden says

Vice President Joe Biden said it’s “astounding” what the country does not know and what it will learn about mental illness and disorders at the inaugural gala of the Kennedy Forum on mental health in Massachusetts Wednesday night. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also spoke at the conference marking the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy signing a law funding mental health centers. She applauded the new federal health care law for requiring insurers to provide more equal coverage of mental health disorders. Read more.

USA Today

‘Habilitation’ among new Obamacare benefits

Habilitation, or supplying people with physical and developmental disabilities with the means of developing independence through treatment, is among the “10 essential benefits” that must be provided through plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. What that actually means for the disabled community remains to be seen due to several varying factors. The federal health care law mandates coverage of habilitation services but leaves it up to states to decide what and how much will be covered. Moreover, the problems that have plagued the online health exchanges are keeping many people from reading exactly what insurers on the health exchanges are covered. Read more.

New York Times

Lacking Rules, Insurers Balk at Paying for Intensive Psychiatric Care

Despite assurances from federal officials that the Affordable Care Act classifies mental health care as an essential benefit, the underlying rules of coverage remain unclear, according to a report from The New York Times.

The problem lies in deciding how to treat mental illness because there is little consensus on a standard of care among doctors and researchers.The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 has more or less fallen short of its goal to require insurers to cover psychiatric illnesses and substance abuse disorders the same way they do other illnesses.

As millions of uninsured Americans prepare to sign up for coverage under the ACA on Tuesday, those seeking treatment for mental health must be ready to do a lot of the digging on their own. Read more.