Legislative Alert!

To:       NAMI Advocacy Leaders
From:  Advocacy & Public Policy
Date:   September 25, 2017
RE:        House Legislation to Cut SSI Benefits
______________________________________________________________________________
Our apologies for the second message today, but things are moving on multiple fronts in Congress. We thank you for your work in mobilizing against the Graham-Cassidy health reform bill. While we encourage you to keep doing so, we also wanted to make you aware of another issue in the House that could have profound implications for people with mental illness.

This week, the House is set to vote on HR 2792, the Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons Act. This bill is moving quickly and could be voted on as early as Tuesday evening. It would suspend eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for certain beneficiaries classified as “fugitive felons.”

Current law already requires suspension of SSI eligibility when a beneficiary is convicted of a felony or incarcerated for a felony offense. This bill would further suspend benefits for outstanding warrants and for allegations of a felony offense or probation or parole violation – regardless of how old it is – offering no exception for old, minor infractions or inactive cases that law enforcement agencies are no longer pursuing. It would even apply to a missed court appearance from years ago.

This bill could deprive thousands of people of the SSI benefits they depend on to meet basic needs. This loss of SSI eligibility would be especially devastating in the many states where it will result in people with mental illness also losing eligibility for Medicaid and access to treatment.

If this bill passes in the House, NAMI will fight it in the Senate and keep NAMI leaders informed of further opportunities to engage on this issue.

 What can you do?

NAMI is sending out an alert on this bill to targeted audiences. While we realize NAMI leaders are actively fighting Graham-Cassidy, we believe many of your members may also be impacted by this bill and would like to contact their representatives. Here’s what you can do to

  1. Send out an alert to your members
  2. Share information on Facebook
  3. Post on Twitter

Action alert
Subject line: Tell Your Representative to Vote Against Cuts to SSI

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill (HR 2792) that would suspend eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for certain beneficiaries classified as “fugitive felons.”

This bill would disproportionately harm people with mental illness that currently receive SSI benefits who have previous law enforcement interactions.

Current law already requires suspension of SSI eligibility when a beneficiary is convicted of a felony or is incarcerated for a felony offense.

This bill would further suspend benefits for outstanding warrants and for any allegation of a felony offense or a probation or parole violation – regardless of how old it is.

The bill offers no exception for minor infractions in the past or inactive cases that law enforcement agencies are no longer pursuing. It would even apply to a missed court appearance from years ago.

The primary effect of this bill would be to deprive thousands of people of the SSI benefits they depend on. The loss of eligibility for SSI will be especially devastating in the many states where it will result in people with mental illness also losing eligibility for Medicaid and access to treatment.

This bill is attached to HR 2824, the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. While NAMI does not oppose the MIECHV program, it should not be funded by cutting SSI benefits for people with serious mental illness.

Tell your Representative TODAY to OPPOSE HR 2792.

Email Now.

 Social media image for Facebook and Twitter

 

Facebook post

Congress is about to vote on HR 2792, which could take away SSI benefits from people with serious mental illness. This bill will suspend SSI benefits beyond convicted felons and those incarcerated for a felony offense to those with an outstanding warrant or allegation of a felony offense or parole violation. Tell your representative to VOTE NO on HR 2792. http://bit.ly/2xqKCFB

 

Tweets

  • The House is about to take away SSI benefits from people with serious mental illness. Tell Congress to #VOTENO. http://bit.ly/2xqKCFB
  • Don’t let the House vote for a bill that will harm people with mental illness with past law enforcement involvement: http://bit.ly/2xqKCFB
  • Tell Congress to #VOTENO on a bill that will cut SSI benefits for people with serious mental illness: http://bit.ly/2xqKCFB

 

 

To:       NAMI Advocacy Leaders
From:  Advocacy & Public Policy
Date:   September 25, 2017
RE:       Graham-Cassidy Bill Update

_____________________________________________________________________________

It’s way too close.

As early as Wednesday, the Graham-Cassidy bill (also referred to as Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill) is expected to come up for a vote —and the vote will be close.

If this bill passes, children and adults with mental illness will get fewer services—and millions will lose their coverage altogether. We need more mental health care, not less, but the Graham-Cassidy bill will move us in the wrong direction.

It will take 3 NO votes from Republican senators (all Democratic and Independent senators are expected to vote no) to stop the Graham-Cassidy bill. In a major shakeup on Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced that he cannot support the bill, which puts us one step closer to defeating this harmful bill. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has also indicated that he’ll likely vote no because the bill doesn’t go far enough to repeal the Affordable Care Act. However, we need at least one more Republican “no” vote to stop the bill from passing. While several senators have expressed concerns, there have not been enough definitive “NO” votes to get the bill pulled.

After the Senate vote, we hope to celebrate the defeat of this bad bill. Or, we’ll be reaching out to NAMI advocates to act quickly and urge their House members to protect their constituents with mental illness by voting no.  

NAMI’s strategy

Working the Hill

  • Working directly with members of Congress and staff
  • Submitting comments to the Senate Finance Committee, which is holding a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill today

Working in coalition

  • Partnering with leading national coalitions to strategize frequently, share messaging, place ads and submit joint letters of opposition

 Activating the grassroots

  • Distributed national alert on Monday, 9/18
  • Working closely with NAMI leaders (thank you!) in target states (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Ohio and West Virginia) to influence Senators whose votes are considered pivotal
  • Promoted personalized, state-specific alerts to target states
  • Pushing out a special video alert to NAMI members today (Monday, 9/25)

Mobilizing online communities

  • Posts on Facebook and Twitter
  • Placing targeted social media ads this week

But we still need your help.

  1. Post on your Facebook page
  2. Post on Twitter

 Social media image for Facebook and Twitter

 Facebook post

This is not a fire drill. There’s never been a more dangerous time for people with mental illness. The Graham-Cassidy health reform bill is coming up for a vote—and it could take away your mental health care. Tell your Senators to VOTE NO on Graham-Cassidy. http://bit.ly/2xucojU

Tweets

  • Health insurance shouldn’t be more expensive and cover less. Tell your Senators to #Act4MentalHealth and #VOTENO. http://bit.ly/2xucojU
  • Mental health is under attack. Tell your Senators to #Act4MentalHealth and #VOTENO on #GrahamCassidy. http://bit.ly/2xucojU
  • Nobody should get to vote your mental health care away. Tell your Senators to #Act4MentalHealth and #VOTENO. http://bit.ly/2xucojU
  • Health reform needs to be done right, but #GrahamCassidy gets it wrong. Tell your Senators to #Act4MentalHealth. http://bit.ly/2xucojU
  • This is not a fire drill. This is a full-blown fire. Tell your Senators to #Act4MentalHealth and #VOTENO. http://bit.ly/2xucojU

Email Now

Updated 09/19/2017

Just a few months ago, you helped defeat health reform efforts that would have left millions without insurance and cut insurance protections. But Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) just introduced a new bill that is even more dangerous for people with mental illness.

For any health reform bill, NAMI asks the simple question: Will Americans have more mental health coverage and better care? With the Graham-Cassidy bill, the answer is unequivocally no.

While it is being promoted as offering more flexibility, their bill will make it harder for people to get psychiatric medications, case management, and mental health services—and other people with mental illness will lose their coverage entirely.

Tell your members of Congress: vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy Bill.

The Graham-Cassidy bill:

  • Allows states to drop the requirement to cover mental health care. Today, Exchange plans are required to cover essential health benefits, which include treatment for mental health and substance use conditions. Under this bill, each state will have the freedom to drop or change these requirements, putting mental health benefits at risk.
  • Shifts Medicaid funding to a “per capita cap” system.Shifting to per capita cap funding (a fixed amount of funding per person) may sound reasonable, but would not keep up with growth in costs and needs. This would result in states being forced to cut Medicaid services and eligibility, which would harm children and adults with mental illness.
  • Effectively ends Medicaid expansion. One in three people covered by Medicaid expansion plans lives with a mental health or substance use condition. Under this bill, Medicaid expansion would be converted to a smaller, temporary block grant that states could use for health coverage or any other health purpose, with no guarantee of mental health coverage.
  • Reduces help to purchase health insurance. Block grants would provide a fixed amount of temporary federal funding to replace insurance subsidies, severely cutting federal help for people to buy insurance. This will leave many people unable to afford the coverage they need for mental health treatment.
Share This
%d bloggers like this: