About 3.7 million Americans, who live in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, suffer from mental illness, psychological distress or a substance use disorder and don’t have health insurance, according to a recent report.
Twenty-four states have not expanded their Medicaid programs, according to USA Today. In the states that did expand Medicaid, about 3 million people with a mental health or substance use disorder, who were formerly uninsured, now are eligible for coverage. The findings come from the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA).
The Affordable Care Act originally required states to expand Medicaid benefits, but in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to opt out of participating in the expansion.
“It is really a tragedy,” said Joel Miller, Executive Director of AMHCA. “When uninsured people with mental health conditions, such as depression, gain Medicaid coverage, they become healthier and life expectancy increases, but in states that refuse to expand Medicaid, citizens will see their hopes dashed for a better life and better health.”
The report findings come from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which counted people with serious mental illness, serious psychological distress, and substance use disorders. The group found almost 75 percent (2.7 million adults) of all uninsured persons with a mental health condition or substance use disorder who are eligible for coverage in the non-expansion states live in 11 southern states that have rejected the Medicaid expansion: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
More than 1.1 million uninsured people who have serious mental health and substance abuse conditions live in just two states — Texas (625,000) and Florida (535,000). These more than 1.1 million people are eligible for coverage under the new Medicaid expansion program, but won’t receive it, the report noted.