Dangerous Cuts to Medicaid, Health Funding
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 21, 2012)—Mental Health America today urged the House Budget Committee to reject a Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), calling the deep cuts to Medicaid included in the plan a radical approach that would likely lead to an increase in the number of Americans unable to receive essential care.
The budget plan unveiled this week would cut Medicaid, the largest source of funding for mental health services nationally, by $810 billion over the next 10 years and convert it into a block grant.
The plan would also gut discretionary health funding by cutting below the levels agreed to last year under the deficit spending plan (the Budget Control Act).
“The cuts to Medicaid and public health programs are dangerous and would place millions of Americans at risk of not being able to afford the behavioral health care they need,” said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. “For 14.7 million seniors and people with disabilities (nearly 25 percent of all Medicaid beneficiaries are seniors and individuals with disabilities, including mental health conditions), Medicaid is a vital safety net that provides access to care in the community.
“Such deep cuts would imperil our public health system and further exacerbate the problems mental health systems are experiencing, given that states have cut mental health agency budgets by a combined total of nearly $4 billion over the last three fiscal years, the largest reduction in mental health spending since the 1960s.”
Dr. Shern said public health programs have already borne more than their fair share of the responsibility for deficit reduction—with two straight years of funding cuts and a looming sequester that will cut even deeper.
“This budget ignores the balanced approaches called for by every credible, bipartisan deficit reduction plan and further damage an already fragile safety net,” he said.
Noting that half of Medicaid recipients are children, Dr. Shern said the plan threatens their well-being.
“Access to cost-effective screening and treatment programs now funded by Medicaid often make a major difference for children with disabilities and allow them to live full and productive lives,” he said.
He said the cuts to discretionary spending would also severely jeopardize funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Prevention and Public Health Fund and other agencies, which all play a critical role in allowing individuals with, or at risk, of a mental health condition achieve recovery and live a productive life in their communitiess.
Dr. Shern said the budget plan’s proposal to repeal the health reform law would limit access to care and undermine the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which bans insurers from placing discriminatory limits on mental health and addiction services.
Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net) is the nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns Office (LGBTCO) advances psychology as a means of improving the health and well-being of LGBT people, of increasing understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation as aspects of human diversity, and of reducing stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and violence toward LGBT people.
Xiomara A. Sosa, Clinical Mental Health – Forensic Counselor (Scholar Practioner)
While depression and other mental health disorders interfere in your quality of life, they are also highly treatable. Despire this fact, only about one in five people with depression receive adequate treatment. Minorities, especially Mexican Americans and African Americans, are even less likely to get the help they need. Different ethnic groups sometimes manifest different symptoms, which leads to misdiagnoses and inappropriate (or no) treatment.
Most depressed patients find relief from antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. The goal of treatment is to put you in remission, which means there’s a significant reduction or elimination of depressive symptoms. Appropriate treatment not only makes you feel better and improves the quality of your life, it helps prevent a relapse in the future.
7 Tips for Getting the Help You Need
1. Understand your disorder. Learn all you can about depression so you can recognize the symptoms and understand the available treatment options.
2. Find a mental health professional. Many people seek help from their family physician (if at all). The symptoms of mental health disorders overlap, so it’s not unusual for a general practitioner to misdiagnose your illness. If you don’t feel you’re getting the help you need, ask your physician for a referral to someone who specializes in treating your disorder.
3. Tell your physician about any concerns you have about treatment. Antidepressants take time to begin working and may produce unpleasant side effects, so many people stop taking them on their own before they see a reduction in symptoms.
4. Rule out underlying conditions. Ask your doctor to evaluate you for other health problems that may interfere in depression treatment.
5. Help yourself. You can take steps to manage your depression even if you’re receiving professional treatment. Start by eating a healthy diet. Select foods rich in mood-enhancing properties, and avoid sugar, caffeine, and highly processed foods. Exercise regularly and learn stress management and relaxation techniques.
6. Ask your doctor about alternative treatment strategies. If you don’t respond to your antidepressant, your physician has several alternative options. He may increase the dose, add another medication that helps the antidepressant work more effectively, or try a different medication altogether. There are additional treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy, that work in treatment-resistant patients.
7. Chart your own progress. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) is a simple online questionnaire that helps you determine how depressed you are so you can gauge how well your treatment is working.
KaiserNetwork.org. “Coverage & Access | More People Receiving Treatment for Depression, Yet Only 20% Receive Adequate Treatment, Study Says.” Web. 18 June 2003.
National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health. “Initial Results Help Clinicians Identify Patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression.” Web. 6 January 2006.
Reviewed by QualityHealth’s Medical Advisory Board
Above: Dr. Aaron Beck converses with
workshop trainees at Beck Institute.
Xiomara A. Sosa
- Major depression accounts for more job absences than any other illness except cardiovascular disease.
- People who experience job related stress, anxiety and depression miss an average of 16 days oif work per year.
- Experts predict that depression will be one of the top three major health threats by 2020
- Mental health counseling is provided along a continuum of care from educational and preventative services to diagnosis and treatment, to long term care. Mental health counselors help individuals and families with problem solving; personal, social and career development; decision making; and self-understanding
- More than 80,000 licensed professional mental health counselors are available nationwide to help. If you or someone you know needs counseling, look for a licensed or certified counselor in the yellow pages or call AMHCA at 800-326-2642.
- Mental Health…. it’s part of your world.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida recently terminated mental health and addiction service providers and is seeking new contracts at substantially reduced rates through its affiliate New Directions Behavioral Health. This could affect patient access to care. We need to send a strong message to other insurers throughout the country, to Congress, and to the Administration that the termination of mental health and addiction service providers violated the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and should not be permitted in Florida or anywhere else in the country. Whether or not you live in Florida, please sign this petition and send the link to everyone you know who wants to see parity in treatment for mental health and substance use patients http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/mental-health-parity/. Your participation is important to ensuring quality care for mental health and addiction recovery patients. Jon Davidson, a SC Assn for Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors, sent me this request to share with all of you. Details below: ATTENTION HELPING PROFESSIONALS! Urgent action is needed. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida recently terminated mental health and addiction service providers and is seeking new contracts at substantially reduced rates through its affiliate New Directions Behavioral Health. This could affect patient access to care. We need to send a strong message to other insurers throughout the country, to Congress, and to the Administration that the termination of mental health and addiction service providers violated the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and should not be permitted in Florida or anywhere else in the country. Whether or not you live in Florida, please sign this petition and send the link to everyone you know who wants to see parity in treatment for mental health and substance use patients http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/mental-health-parity/. Your participation is important to ensuring quality care for mental health and addiction recovery patients.
XAS Consulting, LLC Joins Lambda Legal in Support of Affordable Care Act
U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument at the end of March
(Miami, FL, March 15, 2012) — Today XAS joined over 130 HIV and health care advocacy organizations by endorsing Lambda Legal’s friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the ACA.
“As a strong advocate for humanitarian, health and human services, and mental health issues I stand behind Lambda Legal through my private practice and advocacy organizations in support of the federal government’s position that ACA’s minimum coverage requirement is constitutional and promotes social policy that protects the wellbeing of the people” Xiomara A. Sosa, XAS Consulting, LLC.
In March of 2010, the ACA was signed into law, reforming aspects of the private health insurance industry and expanding access to health insurance for millions of Americans. The constitutionality of the law was immediately challenged in federal court in multiple jurisdictions. In January, 2012 Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief highlighting the crucial link between the ACA and the ability to curtail the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic. The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in several cases challenging the constitutionality of the law the week of March 26, 2012.
XAS has joined Lambda Legal in supporting the federal government’s position that the ACA’s minimum coverage requirement (also known as the individual mandate) is constitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause.
“The list of supporters for our brief urging the Court to uphold the ACA continues to grow because of the law’s enormous potential to impact the domestic AIDS epidemic,” said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director for Lambda Legal. “By signing on to the statement of support, organizations across the nation have affirmed the demonstrable effect the ACA will have on reducing rates of transmission and increasing prevention education, early detection, and access to quality care for everyone living with HIV.”
When the ACA was enacted, only 17% of Americans with HIV had private health insurance. In the individual insurance market, people living with HIV are generally considered “uninsurable” and are routinely rejected when they apply for coverage because they have a pre-existing condition. Even when these individuals find an insurance company to cover them, most states have no rating limits, allowing insurers to charge prohibitively expensive premiums. The ACA is designed to address this problem by eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions and requiring that everyone acquire health insurance.
To read the complete list of organizations that have signed the statement of support, visit http://lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/dept-of-hhs_us_20120315_statement-of-support
Lambda Legal’s HIV Project Director, Scott Schoettes, and Director of Constitutional Litigation, Susan Sommer, are joined as counsel on the brief by Ropes & Gray LLP attorneys Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, Bradley Grossman, Brendon Carrington, and Jacob Heller.
The following organizations are listed as signatories in the amicus brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court: AIDS United, Asian and Pacific-Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA), Black AIDS Institute, Center for HIV Law and Policy, Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA), Latino Commission on AIDS, National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC), U.S. Positive Women’s Network/WORLD, and Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP).
The case is Dep’t of HHS v. Florida. See our case page at: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/dept-of-hhs-v-florida
To read the brief visit: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/dept-of-hhs_us_20120113_brief-for-amici-curiae
Erik Roldan 312-663-4413 ext. 359; Cell: 312-545-8140; Email: email@example.com
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
Public Information Officer, Midwest Regional Office
Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund
11 East Adams, Suite 1008
Chicago, IL 60603
312.663.4413 ext. 359
Revolucionaria: XAS Founder Xiomara A. Sosa, Nominated for The Mobilizer Award
Her big idea is to improve mental health. With not just one, but three movements, Xiomara A. Sosa communicates her message of health across the real and virtual world. Along with her namesake life coaching site (http://xasconsulting.com/), she runs a two nonprofits – one dedicated to veterans health and another site to cultivate family health.
Dear Friends, In a recent issue of “Counseling Today” we spoke about how the ACA Public Policy Staff is working to hold the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable and ensure that they hire more Licensed Professional Counselors in Veterans’ Hospitals and Clinics across the country, as Congress intended back in 2006. We asked you to call and write us e-mails sharing your stories with us and the response has been overwhelming. ACA members from across the country sent us their experiences, showing that lack of recognition of LPCs within the VA’s healthcare system is a widespread problem, occurring at a time when our veterans are in dire need of receiving help to deal with the unseen wounds of war. We want to thank you for sharing your stories with us. We know that dealing with a large federal bureaucracy like the VA can be difficult and very frustrating. We also want to thank you for being persistent in your efforts to try and help our nation’s veterans. ACA is meeting with Congressional staff to highlight this problem and push for a solution, but we need to call on you again for your help. If you have had the unfortunate experience of being shut-out of the VA’s hiring process to provide treatment for veterans, we need you to call your Senators and Representative and let them know this is happening. Federal lawmakers need to know that there are people out there that can help our veterans have a healthy homecoming, but aren’t getting the chance to help. You can find your Congressperson by clicking here and you can find your Senators by clicking here. Please take a few moments to write them an e-mail or make a phone call and tell them that this is wrong. Tell them that you want to help our veterans come home and tell them that this is a problem that can’t wait. For help on this, or should have any question relating to the VA and counselors, contact Art Terrazas at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 800-347-6647 x242. Art Terrazas | Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator ph 703-823-9800 x242 | 800-347-6647 x242 fx 703-823-0252 | web counseling.org