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Advocates: ACA Repeal Would Reduce Access to Mental-Health Care

Experts fear repealing the Affordable Care Act could reduce access to mental-health care for those who need it. (Mecklenburg County/Flickr.com)
Experts fear repealing the Affordable Care Act could reduce access to mental-health care for those who need it. (Mecklenburg County/Flickr.com)
February 15, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. – While the Affordable Care Act hangs in limbo, one sector of the population stands to be significantly impacted. Over the last eight years, access to mental-health care for those who need it has increased, through the availability of policies and safeguards to ensure access to that care.

Jack Register with the National Alliance on Mental Illness - North Carolina, says reducing the accessibility for folks who need care would have a community-wide impact.

"We see folks unable to maintain their employment," he said. "They're unable to continue to go to school and the disconnect is that the cost to the community when we sort of ignore these ongoing issues is they end up in homeless shelters, they end up in jail."

Register says it can take as many as 10 years to establish a successful treatment plan for people in need of mental-health care, and a disruption of treatment can instigate behavior that would make it impossible for them to function in society.

Register says if the state and federal governments don't support regular mental-health care for those who need it, it ultimately will cost more down the line.

"We see that people don't ask for help at the stages in their life when they could be more preventive versus more crisis-oriented, and we end up in a very different conversation," he added.

In spite of the progress made in the availability of care, millions of people still live in areas with a shortage of mental-health care, particularly in rural and economically disadvantaged communities.

Stephanie Carson/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - NC