On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, President Obama signed historic healthcare reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law. As a result of a concerted advocacy effort from the field, a number of national organizations under the umbrella of the Coalition for Whole Health and CADCA, this law contains a number of provisions that will improve coverage for and access to substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery.
Below is a listing of the major substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery provisions contained in the law:
Basic Benefits Package
- The legislation requires basic benefit packages for all health plans in the individual and small group markets to cover substance use disorder and mental health services.
- The legislation requires all plans in the health insurance exchange to comply with the Wellstone/Domenici Parity Act, meaning that substance use disorder and mental health benefits must be covered in the same way as all other covered medical and surgical benefits.
Substance Use Disorder Provisions Contained in Chronic Disease Prevention Initiatives
- The final legislation creates a National Prevention Council, of which the Director of the Office of National Drug Control will be a member. The National Prevention Council is required to submit a report to Congress, and substance use disorders are listed as a national priority that must be included in the report.
- The legislation requires the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to be consulted with on issues related to preventing substance use disorders.
- The legislation authorizes grants for school-based community health centers, and requires these centers to provide substance use disorder and mental health services. Preference will be given to applicants who can show that they have evidenced barriers to providing substance use disorder prevention services for children and adolescents, as well as populations of children and adolescents that have historically demonstrated difficulty in accessing substance use disorder prevention services.
- The legislation authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control to provide grants to State or local health departments and Indian tribes to carry out 5-year pilot programs to provide public health community interventions, screenings, and where necessary clinical referrals for individuals between the ages of 55 and 64. The community interventions, screenings and referrals may include substance use disorders.
Community Health Team Grants
- The legislation authorizes grants for community health teams. Substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and mental health service providers are eligible to apply for these grants, which will support medical homes.
Substance Use Disorder in Workforce Development Initiatives
- The legislation includes the capacity of the behavioral health and mental health workforce as high-priority topics in the bill's National Workforce Strategy section.