Dear CSWA Affiliated Members,
Late last night (December 1) the Senate passed its version of HR 1, the House tax reform bill, and I have been up since 6:30 amtrying to read and digest the 400+ page bill. The truth is, I wish that I had slept in today.
This bill seems to contain a lowering of taxes for the wealthy over the next 10 years and, for the most part, raising taxes for everyone else. One of the ways this has been done is by elimination of the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act. The mandate provided $338 billion for the ACA. It is estimated that premiums for insurance in general will rise by 10% or more, causing many to stop using the ACA marketplace, with the likely effect of making the survival of the ACA questionable.
There are some other specific ways that HR 1 will be harmful to clinicians, not the least of which is having graduate students count their tuition as taxable income, adding a huge tax burden to most doctoral students. Additionally, with the elimination of the requirement that Essential Benefits be included in all insurance plans, we will see a return to the pre-ACA days, when most plans didn’t offer mental health treatment/substance use coverage, and those that did were prohibitively expensive.
Passage by the Senate of such a mean-spirited bill is discouraging. However, keep in mind this is not the final form that the bill will take: a Conference Committee will be working to integrate the House Tax Reform bill and the Senate version over the next few weeks, with hopes of coming to agreement for the President’s signature by Christmas. CSWA encourages members to write members of the Conference Committee as soon as they are appointed; we’ll have contact information available soon.
For right now, we urge you to send the following message to your representative: “I am a member of the Clinical Social Work Association and a constituent. HR 1 as passed by the Senate will harm those covered by the Affordable Care Act by eliminating required access to the mental health and substance use services that they need. We are in the midst of an opioid crisis; the majority of people affected by it also have mental health problems. Please make required mental health and addiction coverage part of all health insurance plans.” You can find email addresses of your senators and representative at https://www.congress.gov/members ; .
Please let me know when you have sent your messages and watch for more legislative action in the next week.
Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
Clinical Social Work Association
The National Voice of Clinical Social Work
Strengthening IDENTITY | Preserving INTEGRITY | Advocating PARITY