Mental Healthcare Access Changes Under Trump

In the early hours of the morning on November 9th, Donald J. Trump was declared the winner of the election for the 45th president of the United States of America. Reactions across the University of Michigan’s campus leaned toward anger and dismay, while a large portion of the country celebrated what they saw as the opportunity to be lifted out of economic distress many communities of less educated whites find themselves in. Throughout his campaign, Trump appealed to voters dissatisfied with the current government with an abrasive rhetoric. His frequent lashing out at other candidates and marginalized groups of people masked the political platform his campaign outlined. Now more than ever, as we move towards four years with Trump leading our country, it is important to understand his platform, especially as it relates to mental health.

One of the main proponents of Obama’s current presidency that Trump has expressed disagreement with is the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In his stance on healthcare, Trump calls to repeal Obamacare. Obamacare has lowered the uninsured health care rate to an all time low of 8.6% for Americans and provided health insurance to those who are not covered by their job or cannot afford private health insurance. Obamacare requires that most plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of the Affordable Care Act, provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse services whereas coverage for these issues pre-Obamacare had an unfairly higher copay than physical health issues and often needed authorization before treatment.

There is an important difference between our President-elect Donald Trump and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, when it comes to their policies on mental health. If you search the phrase “Hillary Clinton mental health policy” in Google, the first result is titled “Hillary Clinton’s Comprehensive Agenda on Mental Health.” If you search the phrase “Donald Trump mental health policy,” the first result is “Healthcare Reform | Donald J Trump for President.” The fact that one presidential candidate felt the need to write a detailed plan, including a call to increase suicide prevention programs and fund more research for treatments, while the other does not have any form of clear plan on mental health policies or reform, is a perfect example of how large portions of our country choose to overlook mental health issues instead of face them straight on.

As Trump moves into office and begins to implement his plan for health insurance, we need to think of the groups of people left behind. Without guaranteed health insurance from jobs, many people cannot afford to pay for private sector health insurance themselves. Trump’s idea is that he will create a marketplace where insurers can compete as if it is an economy. Here is where Trump is wrong- health insurance is not the same as exotic cars. Health insurance that adequately provides coverage for mental health services is a necessity, not a luxury. When our country does not provide health care coverage to people who may need these services, we leave members of our community behind- in some cases even unable to get out of bed.