One Thing Obamacare Can’t Fix: Bad Addiction Treatment


Ideas

Correction appended, March 26, 2014.

After weeks spent offering up increasingly desperate excuses for the glitchy rollout of Obamacare’s insurance exchanges, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seemed elated to change the subject, at least for a moment, when last week she announced regulations that will mean that almost all Americans with health insurance will be fully covered for the treatment of mental illness, including addiction, at least as well as they’re covered for physical diseases. The regulations were trumpeted as part of the President’s plans for curbing gun violence, but they have enormous implications for untreated addiction, which alone costs the nation $420 billion a year, mostly in health care, criminal justice and lost productivity.

(MORE:Viewpoint: We Need to Rethink Rehab)

The new rules are comprehensive, but it’s impossible to know how they’ll be interpreted, monitored and policed. Treating mental illness isn’t easy or cheap…

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