What the Supreme Court decision means for the Children's Mental Health Network

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For those of you who may have been hiding under a rock for the past 24 hours and haven't yet heard the news, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has upheld the Affordable Care Act. The news from the Supremes is helpful in that there is one less contentious issue (constitutionality) to get in the way of the difficult task of improving health care for all Americans in the most politically polarizing time since reconstruction. Faithful readers know that we have been diligently tracking the debate with all of its intrigue and political permutations (type "Affordable Care Act" in our search engine for your own walk down recent memory lane). Regardless of presidential elections, repeals or no repeals, what stays consistent for the Children's Mental Health Network is our focus on the real issues of choice that families who have youth with emotional challenges face. Our clarion call continues to be for family involvement in the decision-making forums crafting health exchanges; the promotion of high quality wraparound services; family to family peer support; and adequate funding and rate structures so that mental health providers can actually provide services that work, are cost effective and result in positive outcomes. All of these need to be at the center of the implementation of health care reform. The Network will continue to fight for the integrity of a system of care approach across health care.

Of particular interest to us is the decision by the Supreme Court to make Medicaid expansion an option. Luckily, this was the only aspect of the law that was struck down, however it leaves a very important decision up to states. Unfortunately for many low-income Americans with mental health challenges, the Court has ruled that the ACA's expansion of the Medicaid program to newly eligible individuals with incomes below 133% of poverty is now up to states. This means that in states that do not choose this option, significant numbers of low-income Americans will remain uninsured. The jury is out as to how many (if any) states will actually choose not to expand Medicaid, but reaction is already beginning to come in from political leaders in states who are questioning whether or not they should participate.

So we will continue to encourage you to saddle up and join us in keeping our focus laser sharp on what is most important for youth and families and the providers who work with them. Learn what provisions in the law are specifically designed to benefit children and families with this handy timeline in the Health Care Reform section of our website.

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