Behavioral health and addiction treatment professionals fear changes to the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) will have dire consequences for the most vulnerable. Many are worried that abolishing the individual mandate will trigger dramatic premium increases as more young, healthy people opt out of buying insurance. Escalating premiums and fewer healthy exchange participants may stress the fragile marketplace even more, eventually leading to heightened uncertainty or total collapse.
Speaking about the progress gained over the past several years as the ACA and technology expanded access to service, New Hampshire’s Senator Jeanne Shaheen said, “We’re just beginning to implement these exchanges in a way that people know about them . . . it makes no sense” to change something that is bringing such hope to the hopeless.
Before the AHCA law passed, doctors like Dr. Yngvild Olsen, a board member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, had concerns about the impact on low-income substance abusers. Olsen told Newsweek she was disheartened that she may have to start turning patients away if state caps on Medicaid make addiction treatment unaffordable.
Forty percent of opioid addiction starts with a legal prescription, according to the CDC. Addiction treatment centers fear implementing the ACA changes will further exacerbate protection efforts against over-prescribing, and limit pain management options for people suffering from chronic conditions, especially in rural communities. Less access to evidence-based treatment planning tools available in a nationwide system could lead to more opioid-related deaths, currently between 42,000-52,000 per year.
Providers and treatment center administrators grapple to find innovative solutions to adjust to the changes, without compromising patient health. This is not the time to wait and worry. By deploying state of the art technology, clinics, and addiction treatment facilities can face the potential challenges head-on. Preparing for billing, compliance and reporting changes now will benefit patients. Streamlining internal processes, intake procedures and workflow patterns save staff time and money, which can give treatment centers more flexibility to work with clients who have severe financial constraints.
As we look ahead to 2019, the challenges of expanding the work started on creating a national mental health safety net for people struggling with substance use management may seem daunting. It is more important than ever to focus on the fundamentals of behavioral health and addiction treatment objectives.
Advancements in technology position behavioral health workers to better serve their clientele, and rapidly adjust to marketplace and compliance changes going forward. AZZLY® EHR and RCM software designed for addiction treatment professionals empower providers to improve the business side of healthcare so patient services take center stage, even in the most challenging environments. Download a free demo today.