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Policy Q&A

Ever wondered how the Affordable Care Act and other policies address prevention, treatment, and recovery? Check out the Policy Q’s & A’s to learn about the Federal approach to these issues.

What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and does it address mental and/or substance use disorders?

The new ACA recently passed by Congress includes services for mental and/or substance use disorders, including behavioral health treatment. This means that all health insurance sold on Health Insurance Exchanges or provided by Medicaid to certain newly eligible adults starting in 2014 must include services for substance use and mental disorders.

So what’s the benefit of the ACA addressing these issues?

By including these benefits, more health care providers can offer and be reimbursed for these services, resulting in more people having access to treatment.

What is the National Prevention Strategy (NPS)?

The NPS is a comprehensive plan called for by the ACA that moves the nation away from a health care system focused on sickness and disease to one focused on wellness and prevention.  

What treatment services does the National Prevention Strategy address?

The Federal government is raising the bar on coverage for substance use and mental disorders, requiring more education; better use of screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment; improved access to care for veterans, inmates, the military, and patients who utilize Federally Qualified Health Centers; and more.

What other Federal Programs address treatment and recovery issues?

Having a criminal record can hurt a person in recovery’s chances of being successful. What legal resources address this challenge, and what policies help those who have criminal records?

There are times in our lives that we wish to forget, and the legal system has a variety of options to help. Options include:

  • Expungement: records are treated as if they no longer exist.
  • Pardon: partially or fully lifts the effects of a conviction.
  • Seal a criminal record: typically relates to those under 21, the state can seal records automatically or after a certain number of years after reaching adulthood, a motion can be made to seal the records.
  • Federal Bonding Program: provides Fidelity Bonds that guarantee honesty for at-risk, hard-to-place job seekers.


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