NAMI Tennessee is a grassroots, self-help organization dedicated to improving quality of life for individuals with mental illness, their families and communities. Our mission is accomplished through mutual support, education and advocacy. 

Visits, Phone calls, Emails, Letters needed NOW!

The U.S. Senate has released their health reform bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017.

Highlights of the Senate bill:

Marketplace Health Insurance Plans

  • Increases eligibility for tax credits to people below 100% FPL ($12,060/year for a single adult in most states), which will increase support to the lowest income Americans;
  • Requires coverage of children up to age 26 on plans; and
  • Keeps the ACA requirement to cover people with pre-existing conditions, like mental illnesses; BUT
  • Allows plans to charge older people 5 x more than other people; and
  • Allows states to get waivers permitting health insurance plans to:
    • Make mental health and substance use coverage optional (if benefits are made optional, parity no longer applies)
    • Change or eliminate maximum out-of-pocket limits

Medicaid Expansion

  • Allows non-expansion states to expand Medicaid eligibility, but limits eligibility to 133% FPL ($16,040/year for a single adult in most states) or below--and at a lower federal match rate than other expansion states;
  • Effectively phases out Medicaid expansion by decreasing federal funding to the standard federal match rate for traditional Medicaid by 2024; and
  • Makes mental health and substance use services optional in Medicaid expansion plans after 2019 by eliminating the requirement to cover essential health benefits.


  • Allows states the option to cover psychiatric hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital (IMD) for up to 30 consecutive days in a month -and up to 90 days in a year;
  • Allows states to adopt work requirements for people (including those with mental illness) who are not on federal disability (SSI/SSDI);
  • Changes Medicaid funding to a per capita cap, a fixed amount of funding per person;
    • Per capita cap funding in Senate bill is expected to result in even deeper cuts to traditional Medicaid than under the House bill because it includes a less generous rate increase for inflation;
    • Per capita caps mean that states will no longer get matching federal funding based on costs-if a state’s medical costs are higher than expected, the state is left with the bill; and
    • States may choose a Medicaid block grant instead of per capita caps (a fixed total amount of federal funding) for non-disabled adults.

Want to know more? Read Kaiser’s comparison of the ACA and the House and Senate bills.

Tennessee is a Key State!

Senator Alexander plays a key role in negotiations that will determine the future of mental health coverage, and Senator Corker is very influential. Governor Haslam is in a strong position to influence your Senators by explaining how restructuring Medicaid would shift financial risk onto the state and jeopardize life-saving coverage for mental health and substance use treatment.

What can you do?

 Contact your Senators with each and every change that is announced.
Email or call your Senate offices now and urge your friends to do the same. Use NAMI’s talking points to share how the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) would impact people with mental health and substance use conditions. 
 Use these talking Points:

One in five Americans are affected by mental illness and more than 50% do not receive treatment. We need more coverage for mental health care, not less.

The Senate health reform bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), will take us backwards.

The BCRA will allow states to let health insurance plans drop mental health and substance use coverage. It is outrageous to even suggest that mental health coverage is optional.

The Senate bill will also devastate community mental health programs by cutting Medicaid funding, making it harder for people to get psychiatric medications, case management and mental health services.

It will result in less mental health care and shift people with mental illnesses into already-strained emergency rooms, hospitals and jails.

Help keep the promise of better mental health care alive. Tell your Senators: Vote NO on the BCRA.

Phone calls and emails are needed now! NAMI advocates are urged to contact Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker immediately. 
Senator Lamar Alexander
Email through his website
Phone: (202) 224-4944 Washington Office 
Senator Bob Corker
Email through his website
Phone: (202) 224-3344 Washington Office

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July 19-21, Knoxville
August 9-11, Nashville
September 6-8, Memphis
 Pre-registration Required
For more information or to register for an upcoming class, contact
Kathy Rogers at 615-269-7751 or 
What is Mental Health Parity and Why is it Important?
Mental health parity means mental illness and substance use conditions must receive the same insurance coverage as physical illness. So if your plan offers unlimited doctor visits for a chronic condition like diabetes, then it must also offer unlimited visits for a mental health condition such as PTSD or anxiety.
Without Mental Health Parity, you are not getting the full range of benefits to which you are entitled.
What is the Tennessee Parity Project?
The Tennessee Parity Project is a coalition to promote state-wide public education on mental health parity. TPP engages in grassroots awareness and compliance education, as well as supporting legislative education and action on the issue.
For more information contact Bonnie Hannah at or 800-467-3589 
Thank You to Our Platinum Level Advocacy Support Sponsor
 NAMI Tennessee Helpline
(800) 467-3589


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NAMI Tennessee is a grass roots, non-profit self-help organization made up of people with mental illness, their families and community members. We are dedicated to improving quality of life for people with mental illness and their families through support, education and advocacy.