Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) Update

What are key changes in the BCRA?

  • Allows insurance companies to offer bare-bones plans with no mental health coverage, as long as they offer a single plan that covers mental health and substance use services. This is a giant step away from parity, or fair coverage of mental health conditions.
  • Provides $45 billion in short-term grant funding to states for the opioid crisis. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the Medicaid funding that will be lost under the bill.
  • Provides a complicated “stability” fund to states. These funds don’t make up for cuts to Medicaid and loss of mental health coverage—and there’s no guarantee they’ll be spread evenly among states or will help people who lose or can’t afford coverage.

What’s unchanged in the BCRA?

  • Leaves fewer Americans with coverage for mental health care;
  • Takes away insurance protections for people with mental health conditions;
  • Effectively ends Medicaid expansion;
  • Cuts and caps Medicaid funding, which will make it harder for people to get medications and mental health services; and
  • Allows states to adopt work requirements for people covered by Medicaid (including those with mental illness) who are not on federal disability (SSI/SSDI);

Want to know more? Read Kaiser’s summary of the revised BCRA. 

What’s next?
Next week, the bill could come up for a vote and pass—unless 3 Republican Senators vote NO. 

What to do this weekend (and week of 7/17):

Regardless of whether your Senators are opposed to or supportive of the BCRA, your alerts and social media posts will help emphasize the impact of the bill on people with mental illness.

Note: If you live in a state with Senators who are considered movable, please put extra effort into reaching out (Alaska, Nevada, W. Virginia, Ohio, Louisiana, Kansas and Arizona). 

  1. Send an alert to your members
  2. Post on social media using #Act4MentalHealth
  3. Tweet directly at your Senators or post on their Facebook page
  4. Join our State Advocacy Network call for a discussion of the Senate health reform bill on July 20 at 4 p.m. ET. Call (888) 858-6021 Access code: 739264#