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Obamacare and government shutdown

 

As the government enters the 9th day of the partial federal shutdown, tempers are running high.

Some may be wondering how the shutdown will affect Obamacare. Short answer: It won’t.

One of the great ironies of the ongoing government shutdown is that most Obamacare funding, the issue at the heart of the battle, won’t be affected by the spending freeze. The funding for the Affordable Care Act is a permanent appropriation — meaning it was approved in a prior session of Congress (in 2010, when the act was passed) and doesn’t have to be approved again.

Indeed, the  insurance marketplaces or exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been open for business for a week.

Several House Republicans, including some who started the fight, have admited that shutting down the government won’t stop Obamacare.

“We probably can’t defeat or get rid of Obamacare,” Kentucky senator Rand Paul has said.

Sen. John McCain said that it is “not rational” to think the Senate will vote to defund Obamacare.

Even Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) who has claimed credit for kickstarting the effort to use the federal budget as leverage to halt funding for Obamacare, a move that led to the impasse and the government shutdown, has realized that the effort is futile.

“Let’s leave Obamacare for another day and not hold hostage the vast majority of government functions,” Lee said.

This is good news for those in need of addiction treatment.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) recognizes drug addiction and alcoholism as chronic diseases that must be covered by health insurance plans, and in so doing marks a major transformation of addiction care.

“I don’t think there’s another illness that will be more affected by the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Thomas McLellan, former deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The ACA requires insurance companies to provide substance use treatment, and encourages medical providers to screen for problem drinking and drug use while allowing them to bill for doing it.

Currently, just 2.3 million Americans receive any type of substance abuse treatment, which is less than one percent of the total population of people who are affected by the most serious of the substance use disorders—addiction.

By the end of 2014, under the ACA, coverage of substance use disorders is likely to be comparable to that of other chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, asthma and diabetes. Insurers will cover physician visits (including screening, brief intervention, assessment, evaluation and medication), clinic visits, home health visits, family counseling, alcohol and drug testing, four maintenance and anti-craving medications, monitoring tests and smoking cessation.

If you or someone you love is in need of addiction treatment, please call us at 1-800-951-6135.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/10/01/painted-into-a-corner-what-now/

http://www.healthycal.org/archives/13408

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/rand-paul-gop-defund-obamacare-97161.html

http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/addiction/affordable-care-act-to-provide-substance-abuse-treatment-to-millions-of-new-patients

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