legislation tagged posts

Mental Health Issues Gaining Legislative Momentum as We Move into 2014

Son Dick walks Mary back to her house.Excellence in Mental Health Act

It has been an active month in Washington, and there is much to celebrate. Legislation furthering government funding for better mental health care has been at the forefront. The Senate Finance Committee took steps toward reforming the funding of mental health care for Medicaid. The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) requires that:

  • Criteria be established for an organization to qualify as a Community Behavioral Health Center, and
  • Centers be reimbursed for Medicaid services on a reasonable cost per visit

This week during a committee hearing, Ms. Stabenow and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) proposed that an Excellence in Mental Health demonstration project be added to the Medicare bill. The National Council for Behavioral Health reported that senators from both sides of the aisle were in support of this amendment.

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Will Your New Insurance Plan Do a Better Job Covering Your Mental Health Care?

Gretchen is optimistic that hers will.

The federal government is in shutdown mode but the health insurance marketplaces are open for business. People with mood disorders and their families have the opportunity to explore the pros and cons of different insurance plans that become effective in January 2014. Mental health care must be covered, but will the different levels of plans pay for the services you need? What will you need to pay for yourself?

Gretchen, who lives with a mental health condition, is hopeful that her new insurance will cover her preferred therapist and psychiatrist...

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Participate in Largest Expansion of Mental Health Coverage in a Generation

healthinsurance2The government may not be open for business, but the market exchanges and 24 hour phone lines are operating today!

Marking today’s opening of the health exchanges, Care for Your Mind shares information and resources about who has to have insurance, what’s involved in enrollment, and what we know about mental health care coverage.

Millions more will now have access to mental health care

If you’re looking for health insurance, you have some new options! Today the health exchanges are open for business. That’s because today is the first day of the enrollment period for the health exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to enable the purchase of health insurance.

Here we are providing links to information covering the individual mandate, enrollment in a health exchange, and what is currently known about mental health coverage. Do you know how the ACA is changing health care?

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Are You Getting All the Mental Health Coverage You Deserve?

CarolMcDaidCarol McDaid
Winning strategies for filing a mental health insurance coverage grievance

CFYM Note: This is the last in the series by Carol McDaid on your rights with regards to mental health insurance parity laws and expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Tuesday’s post provided an overview of what types of denials to look out for. Today, Ms. McDaid tells readers how to file a grievance for denial of mental health insurance coverage.

When should I file an appeal

Mental Health America compiled this list of questions to help you understand if you should appeal a coverage denial. At first glance, the questions may seem to require a sophisticated understanding of your plan and the law, but you can simplify it this way: If the answer is YES to any of the following questions, the plan is most likely not in compliance with the new laws.

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What Can You Do If Your Mental Health Benefits Are Denied?

Carol McDaid
Carol McDaid
Parity Implementation Coalition

Follow these practical steps to win your appeal.

CFYM Note: Last week, Carol McDaid answered the question, “Doesn’t health insurance have to cover mental health care?” She also described steps to make sure you’re getting all the health care benefits you should. This week, Ms. McDaid covers what the mental health parity law means for you when you don’t get the benefits you’re entitled to.

From promise to reality

The fact that we now have two federal laws requiring mental health parity is cause for celebration—both for those of us who spent years advocating for the laws and those of us, me included, who have been denied coverage by our insurance plans.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was signed into law in 2008. The Affordable Care Act goes into effect January 1, 2014, and will require more plans, including those in the newly created health insurance exchanges, to offer mental health parity. (Read more about the laws in Part 1 of this series.)

The federal laws are on top of state laws that exist in approximately 40 states to protect people from being denied mental health benefits through public and/or private employer-sponsored health insurance. (View a chart of state mental health parity laws from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.)

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American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Thoughtful public policies can reduce the number of suicides

afspCFYM Note: Throughout Care for Your Mind, we provide a platform for mental health care advocates to present their perspectives and proposals for change, with an implicit invitation for interested community members to contact those organizations for more information and opportunities to get involved. Today, we launch a new category of posts: the Mental Health Advocate Profile. Rather than being specific to a discrete issue, the Profile allows CFYM to show an organization’s broader range of advocacy interests and concerns. We’ll start off with a look at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, taking note of their Capitol Hill visiting day in June 2013.

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.familyaware.org. We welcome your submissions!

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Congress Should Provide for Students’ Mental Health

Jessica Eagle, M.A.Ed., N.C.C.
Legislative Representative, 
American Counseling Association

Friendly Teens

Since the Newtown tragedy, a spotlight has been placed on the mental health of our country’s youth, creating an expectation among many Americans that we would come together as a nation and respond to the need for improved school safety and mental health access. Indeed, dozens of bills were introduced in the Congress, and numerous Congressional hearings on mental health were held. In the Senate, 95 Senators voted in favor of the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act, which would have reduced youth suicide and mental health barriers to academic and social success.

Unfortunately, the effort to pass comprehensive mental health reform legislation has lost its momentum, leaving our schools and communities in a dire situation due to a one-two punch of funding cuts by state and local governments, and a polarized Congress’ inability to agree on a budget to fund essential community-based programs that support our country’s most vulnerable populations.

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Mental Health in Schools Act: Giving Kids a Fair Shot

Franken-071009-18449 0003It’s estimated that one in five U.S. youth experience mental illness. Yet less than half of kids with a diagnosable mental health disorder receive mental health treatment. (Some studies put this number as high as 80%.)

The consequences of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness in children are tragic. Over the past two decades, suicide rates have doubled among kids ages 10 to 14, and suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.

What’s more, half of the high school students with mental health issues end up dropping out. Children with mental illness are also at higher risk for developing substance abuse problems in adolescence.

We know that children do better in school when they are well fed and well rested. Good mental health is just as important to kids’ school success, and children who have access to mental health treatment do better academically and socially.

Yet we don’t do a very good job of meeting the mental health needs of school-age children. The Mental Health in Schools Act, introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in the Senate and Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) in the House, hopes to correct that. It would expand access to mental health services in schools and give kids experiencing mental illness a fair shot at success.

“Addressing the mental and emotional needs of our kids is just as important as keeping them safe from physical injury and illness,” Sen. Franken said, in prepared remarks. “Healthy kids grow into healthy adults, and if we’re able to catch and address mental health issues early, we can help kids become productive members of society.”

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