NAMI tagged posts

Around the Horn: How Mental Health Organizations Have Recognized National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month 2018

Care for Your Mind

Care for Your Mind is extending its coverage of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (NMMHAM) into August, recognizing that the issues of stigma and access to care aren’t limited to July. Read about how mental health organizations have been contributing to NMMHAM this year.

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Is the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” Ready for Prime Time?

Things can move very quickly in DC when the right people are motivated. Case in point: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) signaled that he wanted mental health legislation to reach a floor vote this year. So while H.R. 2646, sometimes known as the Murphy bill, seemed to be languishing, the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee worked to bring the bill to mark-up last Wednesday, June 15.

Some people opine that our democracy intends for citizens to advocate hard for their principles while accepting that competing points of views must also be acknowledged when moving legislation. Others believe that people should hold tight to their principles, never relenting.

Depending on your own philosophy, last week’s committee mark-up outcome is cause for celebration, acceptance of the inevitable, or reason to keep up the fight. Following is an overview of the bill that was voted out of committee. Insiders are saying that Speaker Ryan wants a full chamber vote later this summer.

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What’s Going on with National Mental
Health Reform?

Spurred to action by a number of mass shooting tragedies, various commissions in Washington were created to seek a solution to the pervasive problem of mass violence in our society. A call to reform the delivery of mental health care was a central component of that effort. As a result of this discussion, members of both the U.S. House and Senate drafted mental health reform legislation. Summaries of the two key bills follow, along with a glimpse at the positions of a couple of mental health advocacy groups.

Highlights of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (HR 2646)
This comprehensive bill, introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), joined by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) as the lead Democrat on the bill, includes provisions that cut a broad swath across mental health care, standards, funding, and practice:

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Jumping Over a Dollar to Pick Up a Nickel

david-preciseDavid Precise 
Executive Director of NAMI Louisiana

Jumping Over a Dollar to Pick Up a Nickel
How mental health policies, including the new Medicare Part D proposed rule, sacrifice patient outcomes and long-term cost control for short-term savings

There is an expression I use—jumping over a dollar to pick up a nickel—that describes ignoring one reward in pursuit of another, smaller prize. Blinded by the appeal of the shiny nickel, we ignore the dollar right beneath our feet. Too often, our nation’s mental health policies are driven by such short-sighted mentality; and too frequently, people with mental health disorders suffer as a result.

When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a Medicare Part D proposed rule, one which would restrict beneficiaries’ access to important antidepressants and antipsychotics, I was disappointed to see yet another example of this reckless mindset. For while restricting formularies is often proposed as a way to control health care costs, we know that denying patients’ access to the full category of drugs often leads to worsening conditions and increased health costs down the road.

That’s because every human being’s brain is different and responds to treatment in different ways. If there are 20 different drugs for schizophrenia and the formulary is cut to just the four cheapest, we put individuals at great risk, and society incurs the associated health costs of untreated and uncontrolled mental illness.

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How Will You Make Your Voice Heard in 2014?

bottleIn recent posts, guest editors, CFYM editors and our readers have shared their ideas about the status of access to quality mental health care in 2014. Will it be a year we look back on as a turning point in the fight for civil rights for people living with mood disorders?  Or will it will be a year that we give back some hard earned gains.

In recent posts, guest editors, CFYM editors and our readers have shared their ideas about the status of access to quality mental health care in 2014. Will it be a year we look back on as a turning point in the fight for civil rights for people living with mood disorders?  Or will it will be a year that we give back some hard earned gains.

There is much to be to keep our eye on in the coming year. During the winding days of Congress, before the holiday recess, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 3717 was introduced. Many advocacy groups voiced their thoughts on this bill including Mental Health AmericaNational Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Council for Behavioral Health, to name a few.

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Improving the Quality of Life for People with Mental Illness

CFYM Note: Mental Health Advocate Profile posts allow CFYM to highlight an organization’s broader range of advocacy interests and concerns. Today’s profile features the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Any organizations seeking to be featured in a CFYM Mental Health Advocate Profile should submit information about current legislative interests and activities to info@careforyourmind.org. We welcome your submissions!

nami

NAMI is a grassroots organization of individuals with mental illnesses, especially serious mental illnesses, their family members, and friends whose mission is to advocate for effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support, research, and recovery to improve the quality of life of persons of all ages who are affected by mental illnesses.

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Health Reform and Access to Prescription Drugs

Andrew Sperling, Director of Legislative Advocacy
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Andrew Sperling, J.D.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers new choices for quality, reliable, low cost private health insurance and opens Medicaid to more people living with mental illness.

Under the law, all health plans are required to provide certain categories of benefits and services—so-called Essential Health Benefits (EHB). One of these is prescription drugs.

A question mark as to prescription drug coverage
While plans will be required to cover a minimum number of prescription drugs used to treat mental health conditions in a therapeutic class, each plan may choose to cover different medications; and the number of covered drugs will vary by state and by plan.  Most significant, the law does not require plans to cover all drugs in a particular therapeutic class.  As a result, medical and behavioral health plans can avoid covering specific drugs that, in your physician’s judgment, best address your needs.

This poses serious challenges for individuals who are in need of multiple drugs per class, particularly people with serious and persistent mental illness, chronic conditions and disabilities. Antipsychotic medications, for example, are not clinically interchangeable, and providers must be able to select the most appropriate, clinically indicated medication for their patients.  What’s more, physicians may need to change medications over the course of an illness as patients suffer side-effects or their illness is less responsive to a particular drug, and patients requiring multiple medications may need access to alternatives to avoid harmful interactions.

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