According to a release, the Supreme Court's recent action upholding most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act significantly expands the number of Americans who will have health insurance.
The California Treatment Advocacy Foundation (CalTAF) said it wants to make sure that these newly insured Americans and those who already have insurance can get treatment for alcohol and substance abuse problems.
"Healthcare reform promises better access to comprehensive healthcare," states Phillip Greer, executive director of CalTAF. "There has never been a better time to ensure that comprehensive care includes effective and affordable substance use disorder treatment."
In a release, Greer pointed out that the national crisis of 45 million uninsured Americans is mirrored in California by a crisis even among those with healthcare coverage who cannot get needed help with alcohol and drug disorders. According to Greer this is because many insurers "continue to impose unreasonable deductibles and co- payments or impose care guidelines that keep patients from receiving treatment at the level of intensity or for an amount of time that is universally accepted as necessary. It's time to make sure that healthcare reform does not neglect one of our most pressing healthcare issues."
Toward that end last month CalTAF reported that it established a legal referral service for those California residents who believe they may have been improperly denied substance-abuse treatment by their insurance company. Under the program an individual can receive a free consultation including a legal review by a qualified attorney and advice about legal rights, along with a referral to an attorney with specialized expertise in insurance claims. CalTAF is also working in Sacramento to help bring about change through the legislative process.
The group noted that that each year more than six million Californians need substance abuse treatment. Current estimates for the cost of drug abuse in California are approximately $4 billion. Alcoholism and drug-abuse problems are the costliest health problems in California. In addition to the pressures and suffering substance use disorders put on individuals and families, the crisis has profound affects in the workplace. Decreased productivity, increased accidents, absenteeism, turnover and medical costs are epidemic. Drug-using employees are 2.2 times more likely to leave work early or take time off, 2.5 times more likely to have absences of eight days or more, three times more likely to be late for work, and five times more likely to file a workers' compensation claim. In addition, alcohol and drug dependent employees are two to four times more likely to have a workplace accident than employees who do not use drugs or alcohol.
"The discussion and debate on the Affordable Care Act has heightened everyone's awareness of the need to care for our citizens in a way that is fair and equitable," says Greer. "All individuals should have access to the right treatment, in the right setting, and at the right time. Now we have an opportunity to step up to the plate and make sure that is so."
The California Addiction Treatment Advocacy Foundation is dedicated to improving access to substance use disorder treatment throughout the state.
((Comments on this story may be sent to email@example.com))