GOP Governors’ Refusal To Expand Medicaid Leaves Nearly 4 Million People Without Mental Health Care

Source: Alex Leichenger / ThinkProgress

Half of the states in the country have blocked the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, denying insurance coverage to 3.7 million Americans with mental illness and substance abuse conditions, according to a new report from the American Health Counselors Association. In five of these states, at least 50 percent of uninsured people could benefit from mental health coverage. Eleven of the states refusing to extend coverage are in the Southeast, where nearly eighty percent of those being denied mental health coverage through Medicaid reside.

But several of the Republican governors standing against Medicaid expansion have previously called for increased mental health resources, particularly following the Newtown massacre and other gun tragedies.

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For instance, in 2012, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) advocated for mental health services as a better policy solution than gun control. “Right now we have broken system regarding mental health,” he said. “And this type of situation could occur here because of some people with serious mental health issues.”

Early last year, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) sent letters to Vice President Joe Biden saying that “the problem we face has little to do with firearm ownership and nearly everything to do with mental health issues.”

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