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By Patty Wight
More than 19,000 Mainers will lose access to mental health and drug treatment if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, according to researchers at Harvard and New York University.
At a time when drug overdose deaths are at an all time high in Maine, health care advocates say the push by Republicans in Congress to repeal the ACA with no clear replacement will make the problem even worse.
Eleven-thousand Mainers insured by marketplace plans receive mental health treatment, according to the Harvard and NYU study. Another 8,000 receive treatment for substance use disorder. Study co-author Dr. Sherry Glied of NYU points out that these are people who, prior to the ACA marketplace, largely found health insurance unavailable or unaffordable.
“If the marketplace is repealed, those people would presumably go back to where they were before the law passed, and that is uninsured,” she says.
Glied says taking away insurance coverage runs counter to efforts across the country to battle an opioid epidemic.
Malory Shaughnessy of the Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services in Maine sees it in more stark terms.
“We have people dying every day, and this will just increase that,” she says.