An estimated 16 million Americans may be added to state Medicaid programs under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. So, organizations representing mental health professionals, notably the American Psychological Association, see the potential for expanded business opportunities when the law fully kicks in starting in 2014.
But there was a glitch in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the law. While justices backed the insurance mandate, they said the federal government can’t pull Medicaid funding from states that refuse to implement Medicaid expansion.
Already on Friday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a possible vice presidential contender, said he would refuse to implement the ACA, Supreme Court decision or not. While not addressing Medicaid expansion directly, Jindal said Louisiana would not set up a health insurance exchange program as required by the reform law.
Instead, he’s betting that Mitt Romney is elected president and the health care act is repealed. Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell said his state was evaluating whether or not to follow the law, according to ABC News. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has turned down federal money in the past, was unsure whether the state would opt out of Medicaid expansion.
A year ago, Scott turned down federal grants that would have helped move long-term nursing home patients into the own homes.
“There are a lot of programs that the federal government would like to give you that don’t fit your state, don’t fit your needs and ultimately create obligations that our taxpayers can’t afford,” Scott told The New York Times in July.
Two mental health organizations, meanwhile, immediately trumpeted the court’s validation of the ACA. “NASW and its members will work with states to do what is in the best interest of their most vulnerable citizens—and expand Medicaid eligibility to the level set by the ACA,” the National Association of Social Workers said in a release after the decision.
The American Psychological Association said: “In keeping with the Supreme Court’s ruling, states can now decide to expand Medicaid eligibility and, if they choose not to do so, they no longer face a penalty. Thus, it is now essential to encourage states to expand their Medicaid programs for uninsured persons ….”
The American Psychiatric Association recognized the Medicaid ruling in a news release, but did not comment on it directly. “Undoubtedly, volumes will be written in the next few days about what the decision means,” the APA said.
They advised their members to closely monitor the fast-developing story.
- John Nelander, Contributing Editor