As the debate over significant changes to our health care system dominates conversations among policymakers, patients and physicians, The American Brain Coalition (ABC) wants to be a resource for our members about healthcare reform.
The American Brain Coalition is a nonprofit organization that brings together organizations representing people with disabling brain disorders, the families of those that are affected, and the professionals who research and treat diseases of the brain. The mission of the ABC is to reduce the burden of brain disorders and advance the understanding of the brain. As such, The ABC supports a thoughtful, bipartisan, and patient-centered approach to health care reform legislation to benefit the millions of Americans suffering from neurological and psychiatric illnesses.
Below, is a list of points we believe our members should consider about healthcare reform and its impact on the quality of life for neurological and psychiatric patients and their families.
- Essential health services can and should be accessible and affordable, particularly to address the special needs of people living with long-term neurological and psychiatric disorders.
- Coverage of treatment and medication for mental illnesses, including alcohol and substance addiction, should be equal to the coverage of treatment and medication for medical illnesses, thereby ensuring true mental health insurance parity.
- Patients should have a highly flexible amount of choice as to which health care provider they see, without regard to whether they are part of a public or private health insurance plan.
- Pre-existing conditions, such as neurological and psychiatric conditions, must not be a barrier to patients receiving coverage or result in them being charged a higher premium.
- Out-of-pocket costs should be affordable. This includes deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance.
- The current 24-month disability waiting period for Medicare coverage, which acts as a barrier to healthcare, should be repealed.
- Services and support must be expanded for patients with cognitive and psychiatric symptoms that may be a result of a primary neurological condition or the medication used to treat the condition.
- There should be coverage for long-term care and services, including nursing home, in-home, and community services and hospice services for those suffering from neurological and psychiatric disorders.
- Annual and lifetime caps on insurance coverage, which can mean financial ruin for those with serious and chronic conditions, must be repealed.
- Current drug benefits provided through insurance programs—whether public or private—have limitations, including the ‘doughnut hole’ in Medicare and must be addressed.
- Use of electronic medical records and telemedicine that will improve the provision of medical and other health care services and incentives should be built into payment systems to advance their adoption.