National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Action Alert: Congress to Consider Major Medicaid Changes in September, Grassroots Advocacy Campaign Needed During Congressional Recess

August 3, 2005

This week the House and Senate began a month long summer recess, during which members of Congress will be in their states and districts across the country. One of the major issues Congress will confront upon their return to work in September is how to reduce future Medicaid expenditures by $10 billion over the next five years.

These reductions to Medicaid will be considered as a part of a massive budget "reconciliation" measure that Congress is supposed to complete sometime in the fall. This "reconciliation" legislation will include a number of programmatic changes to Medicaid that could have an enormous impact on beneficiaries (both children and adults) living with mental illness. NAMI is very concerned that these reductions to Medicaid do not adversely impact on access to treatment support services for Medicaid beneficiaries living with mental illness.

Action Required

During the current congressional recess, advocates are urged to reach out to members of Congress to remind them of the following:

  • Medicaid is the largest and most important source of funding for public sector mental illness treatment services -- now surpassing 50% of all public mental health expenditures,
  • Most mental illness treatment and support services are deemed "optional" for state Medicaid programs, including prescription drugs, intensive case management and assertive community treatment (ACT),
  • Congress must NOT make cuts to these "optional" services as part of the planned $10 billion in reduction to Medicaid. Efforts to impose increases in cost sharing for Medicaid beneficiaries will have a disastrous impact on most beneficiaries, especially those living on SSI, and
  • Changes to Medicaid in Congress should not encourage (and should actively curb) the ability of state Medicaid programs to limit access to medications to treat mental illness.

During the month of August most Senators and House members will be holding local town meetings, appearing on radio call-in programs and many other public forums. Advocates are strongly encouraged to reach out with a strong message emphasizing that any reductions to Medicaid should not harm vulnerable Americans with severe mental illnesses.

Click here to read more about the proposed changes to Medicaid and to access a letter regarding these proposed changes that you can send to your U.S. Senators and House member.