Health & Science

Report: Mentally Ill, Addicted Left Behind By Texas Refusal To Expand Medicaid

A new federal report estimates that expanding Medicaid could help hundreds of thousands of mentally ill and uninsured Texans get treatment. Read the report below.

Richard G. Frank is the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Richard G. Frank is the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Federal health officials say people with mental illness and addictions are being left behind in Texas because the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid to more low-income adults.

The health care program for the poor is controversial for many Republicans. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that expansion was a voluntary part of the Affordable Care Act, and 19 states have declined to expand it.

A new federal report estimates that expanding Medicaid in Texas could help 406,000 mentally ill and uninsured Texans get treatment, according to Richard Frank, an Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“If states are serious about addressing mental illnesses, opioids, and other substance use disorders, expanding Medicaid offers a unique opportunity to do so,” Frank said in a national conference call with reporters. “It will bring people into effective treatment and is fully paid for under the Affordable Care Act.”

The new federal report discusses how untreated mental illness affects homelessness, job productivity, and jails and prisons. The report says states that did expand Medicaid were able to save money on programs for mental health or the uninsured, or divert the money to other programs.

Bryan Black is a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. He offered the following statement when asked to respond to the report:

“The Governor and the Legislature have made it clear that expanding Medicaid is not the answer for Texas. Over the past few years, Texas lawmakers have significantly invested in mental health programs across the Lone Star State to ensure Texans receive the critical services they need.”

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