Rep. Joe Kennedy III uncovered one more big scandal with Trumpcare in the House Energy and Commerce committee mark-up of the bill: it ends substance abuse and mental-health coverage that's now used by at least 1.3 million Americans in the expanded Medicaid program.
[D]uring a Wednesday meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a lawyer for the committee Republicans confirmed such coverage would no longer be mandated under the Medicaid expansion. Instead, individual states could decide whether to include mental-health coverage in their Medicaid plans.
During the committee meeting, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) asked a GOP staffer whether those benefits are "no longer essentially covered, or required to be covered, by this version of this text. Is that not correct?"
"The text before us does remove the application of the essential health benefits for the alternative benefit plans in Medicaid," a lawyer for Republicans on the committee responded.
"Including mental health?"
"It's potentially devastating," Kennedy said in an interview. "You're going to have over a million people, many of whom are struggling with an opioid epidemic that's wreaking havoc on our streets across the country, ripping these benefits at a time when they need them the most."
That's a massive public health fail in the midst of an epidemic that is costing lives. It's a virtual death sentence, and an expensive one for the states dealing with this crisis. They are to a large extent losing their federal partner in this fight, and will have to make tough decisions about where to spend the decreased Medicaid dollars they're getting. Is it going to help children? The disabled? The elderly? Here's your death panel.
Incidentally, that also means maternity coverage won't be a mandated essential health benefit, either. It's an expensive one, too. I guess we can't expect our ranking as the worst developed country in the world on maternal and child health to improve any time soon.