NJAMHAA Statement on the Senate’s Defeat of “Skinny” Affordable Care Act Repeal Bill

New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies President and CEO Debra L. Wentz, PhD stated today that "While we can celebrate this victory - and we should celebrate - it is not a time to let down our guard as unfortunately, we can anticipate future attempts to repeal and weaken the provisions of the Affordable Care Act [ACA], as well as funding for Medicaid and Medicare."

"We thank all our members and other stakeholders for their constant advocacy against the GOP repeal of the ACA and substitute bills, and all of us must be prepared to persevere in our advocacy," Dr. Wentz added.

Although the "skinny" bill is a greatly pared down version of what Republicans initially proposed, it still would have had a significant negative impact: The number of uninsured individuals nationwide would have been reduced by 15 million by next year and premiums for individuals purchasing insurance on their own would have increased by about 20 percent, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Shortly before the vote took place early this morning, the Senate introduced a new bill, the Health Care Freedom Act, which would eliminate the individual mandate and the requirement for large employers to offer coverage to their workers. This bill does not include any incentives for individuals to obtain coverage, which could result in individuals waiting to buy insurance until they become ill and, therefore, significantly increased insurance premiums.

"We are taking a sigh of relief, but a very brief one. Clearly, much work by the legislators and much advocacy from all stakeholders are still needed," Dr. Wentz said.

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