By Chris Adams

Repealing the Affordable Care Act has been a priority for Republicans in Congress for seven years. If they are able to do so, an expert on mental health issues said it would have profound impact on that treatment.

Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, led journalists at a National Press Foundation session though the range of federal and state issues that could impact mental health and substance use services.

“This is the fundamental fight of the decade – is health care a right or a privilege?” Rosenberg asked. “During Obamacare, we swung to it being a right. Now we might be swinging back.”

And no matter what happens during the 2017 repeal efforts – even if those efforts fail – Rosenberg said, “This is not a good time to take the foot off the pedal.” (She predicted Republicans will ultimately pass a bill to send to President Trump.)

In addition to talking about the main Obamacare debate, Rosenberg laid out other key issues, including the fiscal 2018 budget proposals from Trump and Congress; state-level access issues; mental health first aid legislation; and what she says is a huge influx of private equity into behavioral health treatment centers.

That money is a result of a parity law passed nearly a decade ago. It indicates, she said, “Every time we make a health care decision in this country, we are making a business decision, too.”