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Health equity and access

Providing input on the design of a potential ‘public option’ health insurance plan

APA offered recommendations to congressional leadership on the design of a potential “public option” health plan that, if enacted, would compete with private insurance plans. APA highlighted several advocacy priorities in its response, including reimbursement, parity, and innovative forms of mental health and substance use treatment.

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American Psychological Association. (2021, August 2). Providing input on the design of a potential ‘public option’ health insurance plan.

Man at therapy in deep thought

On May 26, 2021, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) sent out a request to stakeholders concerning the design, structure, and benefits of a “public option” health insurance plan (PDF, 200KB) that, if passed by Congress, would compete with private plans to ensure broader and more equitable health insurance coverage.

On July 30, 2021, APA Advocacy staff submitted a comprehensive response to this request via a letter signed by Chief Advocacy Officer Katherine B. McGuire (PDF, 377KB). Advocacy staff prepared this document in collaboration with Practice Directorate staff, as well as Legal and Regulatory Affairs. APA’s response acknowledges the gains in health insurance coverage that were made due to the Affordable Care Act, and highlights the persistent gaps in coverage, particularly amongst communities of color. The letter responds to several specific inquiries raised in the Murray/Pallone letter, such as eligibility criteria for the public option and the basis for provider reimbursement.

APA’s response also demonstrates the inequities in coverage for mental and behavioral health treatment, as well as the excessive administrative burdens and inconsistent standards that providers continue to face in treating patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. APA’s letter also looks to the future of treatment and how a public option can be leveraged to encourage adoption of more innovative forms of treatment, such as virtual reality for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder and contingency management for the treatment of substance use disorders.

For more information, contact Andrew Strickland, JD, or Scott Barstow.