APA Letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Regarding Tim Murphy’s Claim that the Affordable Care Act Betrayed Mentally Ill

APA agrees that there should be stronger federal and state mental health parity enforcement.

Letter to the editor submitted by APA. 
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dear Editor:

The American Psychological Association agrees with Rep. Tim Murphy that the Affordable Care Act can be improved to aid persons with mental disorders (“Psychologists dispute Tim Murphy’s claim that ACA betrayed mentally ill,” March 22). In particular, stronger federal and state mental health parity enforcement is needed. APA is fighting for this every day, and we worked closely with Rep. Murphy for better parity enforcement as part of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

Rep. Murphy is a lifelong mental health champion, and his work in Congress has reflected this deep dedication. The Helping Families Act will provide much needed help to those with mental illness. We recently recognized Rep. Murphy with our APA Practice Organization’s Outstanding Leadership Award for spearheading this legislation.

The Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid has provided a lifeline for millions of Americans with mental health and substance use disorders, including hundreds of thousands of people struggling with opioid addiction. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for federal and state governments to pay for Medicaid. We need to figure out a more effective way of using limited Medicaid dollars to provide mental health and substance use services to those who need them. A model of care that integrates mental and physical health is a very promising approach. Rep. Murphy is to be commended for his advocacy toward this goal.

We are pleased that Congress is debating how to improve health care coverage. While we oppose the American Health Care Act due primarily to its limitations for mental health and substance use disorders, we are hopeful that a favorable bipartisan solution will soon be reached. We have no doubt that Rep. Murphy will continue to be a champion for mental health in this effort.

Antonio E. Puente, PhD
APA and the APA Practice Organization