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Trumpcare yanks mental health care and substance addiction treatment from 1.3 million people

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The Republicans’ proposed plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — also known as “Obamacare” — will cut mental health and addiction treatment for 1.3 million people, just as the country is struggling to cope with an epidemic of opiate addiction.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that House Republicans admitted under questioning by Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) that their ACA repeal-and-replace plan would “remove a requirement to offer substance abuse and mental-health coverage that’s now used by at least 1.3 million Americans.”

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“Substance abuse and mental-health services are among the ‘essential benefits‘ states are required to provide under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, a program that provides health-care coverage to those who can’t afford it,” explained the Post‘s Christopher Ingraham.

In a meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Kennedy asked a Republican staffer if these benefits are “no longer essentially covered, or required to be covered, by this version of this text. Is that not correct?”

“The text before us does remove the application of the essential health benefits for the alternative benefit plans in Medicaid,” said a lawyer representing the Republicans on the committee.

“Including mental health?” said Kennedy.

“Yes,” the lawyer answered.

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Ingraham wrote, “If states opt out of providing those benefits, Medicaid recipients would not only lose coverage for mental-health care, but also coverage for care aimed at addressing substance abuse treatment, a critical area of care given the current drug overdose epidemic many states are dealing with.”

The Post pointed to an estimate by health-care economists Richard Frank of Harvard and Sherry Glied of New York University, who said that about 1.3 million Americans’ sole access to these services is through the ACA.

Kennedy and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) attempted to amend the bill to restore the federal mandate for essential benefits, but it was voted down along party lines.

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“It’s potentially devastating,” Kennedy told the Post. “You’re going to have over a million people, many of whom are struggling with an opioid epidemic that’s wreaking havoc on our streets across the country, ripping these benefits at a time when they need them the most.”

Kennedy has called the Republican bill “an act of malice” toward the American people.

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“There is is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury,” he said. “There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill… This is not an act of mercy — it is an act of malice.”

Economic stagnation, a lack of mental healthcare services and loose regulations on drugmakers and prescribing doctors have caused the opioid crisis to spiral rapidly out of control and is leading to an uptick of HIV transmissions in some areas that are already critically underserved by the healthcare system.

The epidemic of opioid abuse, addiction, dependence and overdoses costs the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $78.5 billion per year.

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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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