Vail Kozatch: Tipton celebrated Mental Health Month by cutting funding |

Vail Kozatch: Tipton celebrated Mental Health Month by cutting funding

May's Mental Health Month started with Congressman Scott Tipton voting to cut a key funding source for mental health.

How? By voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminating Medicaid expansion. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation:

• Medicaid funded 25 percent of all mental health and 21 percent of all addiction spending (2014)

• Medicaid covered 26 percent of adults with serious mental illness, 21 percent of adults with any mental illness and 17 percent of adults with addictions (2015)

• Nearly half of Medicaid spending is for enrollees with behavioral health conditions (2011)

• In 10 states with Medicaid expansion there was a 44 percent decline in uninsured mental health hospital stays – a decline not seen in non-expansion states (2014).

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These numbers are significant, and the positive impact of Medicaid expansion cannot be replaced by Tipton's under-funded state block grants. Reducing or eliminating Medicaid expansion will hurt both individuals who need mental health care and the financial stability of community mental health centers.

If this wasn't bad enough, Tipton also voted to replace the ACA with a GOP plan that – in addition to eliminating Medicaid expansion – allows states to opt out of 10 essential health benefits, which include mental health treatment. This option was cloaked as "local, state choice" when in reality it gives this power and "choice" to insurance companies to not cover essential benefits such as mental health treatment.

The good news is that the U.S. Senate has an opportunity to correct this harmful vote on mental health care. Make every month Mental Health Month by contacting Senator Cory Gardner at 970-245-9553 and asking him to protect Medicaid expansion and mental health coverage.

Vail Kozatch