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Pallone, Kennedy, DeGette Release Report on Medicaid Expansion & Mental Health

Jul 21, 2017
Press Release
Roughly a quarter of Medicaid expansion enrollees receive behavioral health treatment

With Senate Republicans still seriously considering legislation to repeal Medicaid expansion next week, Congressman Joe Kennedy III (MA-04), Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CO-01) released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report focused on the impact of the program on behavioral health patients. Examining Iowa, New York, Washington and West Virginia, the GAO report found that between 20%-34% of expansion enrollees received behavioral health treatment in 2014.

“Patients and families confronting an indiscriminate opioid crisis and struggling mental health system are exhausted and demanding access to the care they deserve,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “More than just statistics and studies, this report unveils how Medicaid expansion has provided thousands of Americans with needed treatment and compassionate care. If President Trump and Senate Republicans are successful next week, our government will ignore these indisputable facts and take away health care from the very people who need it most.”

“The numbers don’t lie, this report demonstrates the important role Medicaid Expansion plays in the lives of Americans living with behavioral health conditions,” said Congressman Frank Pallone, the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.  “If Republicans pass Trumpcare and slash funding for Medicaid it will undo all of the progress we’ve made to improve access to behavioral health treatment and the positive steps we took on mental health reform last year.”

“This report by the reliable and nonpartisan GAO reaffirms Medicaid’s vital role in treating mental health conditions and substance use disorders,” said Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. “Eliminating the Medicaid expansion would have a devastating effect on many states, including Colorado. What it all comes down to is that there’s no substitute for affordable, comprehensive health insurance. We should not roll back the significant progress made under the Affordable Care Act.”

Highlights of the report include:

  • Between 17-25% of expansion enrollees in selected states had a behavioral health diagnosis in 2014.
  • In selected states expanding Medicaid for the first time to this population, officials said that expansion enrollees likely had greater access to behavioral health treatment after enrolling in Medicaid.
  • Officials from Iowa, Washington, and West Virginia reported that, compared to being uninsured, expansion enrollees could more easily access treatment, such as community-based mental health services and behavioral health prescription drugs.
  • Combined, Medicaid expansion covered over two million enrollees in the four states.

To read the full report, please click here.