According to A. Thomas McLellan, Phd and CEO of the Treatment Research Institute, the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is good news for those seeking help for the disease of addiction who otherwise would not have an opportunity to treat their illness. Additionally, Americans not classified as “addicts” who consume legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, who have never had health insurance now have an opportunity to prevent and treat illnesses associated with these drugs.
Dr. McLellan notes that treating the 23 million Americans classified as addicts is disproportionately costly, but the 40-45 million Americans who are not severe addicts, but still could be classified as harmful substance abusers make up the largest burden of illness and cost to healthcare. The ACA would include care services for all levels of substance abuse disorders as part of the “essential benefit design” in all health plans.
Dr. McLellan served under President Obama as part of the president’s healthcare reform task force. He refers to two primary facts concerning the seriousness of the American substance abuse problem and the cost involved in treating those who are not insured. “First, unaddressed substance use now costs mainstream healthcare upwards of $100 billion annually, particularly in areas such as ER and trauma care, but also in the treatment of virtually every chronic illness,” he said.
According to McLellan, the new Health Care policy will be beneficial in helping addicts find the help they need for their substance abuse problems. It could also help prevent, detect, and intervene problems for Americans who are not classified as “addicts,” but remain at-risk for serious health complications due to their cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Health Care Law, informally known as Obama Care, on Thursday June 28.