Washington Times (1/17, Dinan) reports President Obama “is using the national debate over gun violence to push for further action on his health care law, including insisting on the kind of mental health coverage states must provide under their Medicaid programs.” President Obama plans to take 23 executive actions, including the finalization of regulations “clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges,” and the commitment “to finalizing mental-health parity regulations.”
Politico (1/17, Cheney) says President Obama noted “ways that Obamacare will broaden access to mental health care – and tried to stamp out what he called the misperception that a narrow provision of the 2010 health law had made it illegal for doctors to talk to their patients about gun safety.” The health components of his gun control agenda “were immediately embraced by many prominent groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association. Notably, Obama outlined a $150 million proposal to hire thousands of new mental health professionals and social workers, provide teachers and school officials with training to identify symptoms of mental illness and shore up services for at-risk youths.”
Bloomberg News (1/17, Flinn) reports President Obama “called for a national dialogue and greater resources for mental health care today as part of his package of legislative proposals and executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence.” Bloomberg quotes American Psychiatric Association President Dilip Jeste as saying, “We are heartened that the administration plans to finalize rules governing mental health parity. Such action will best ensure that Americans get the full range of mental-health services we believe they are intended to receive under federal law.”
APA Statement Praises Obama Proposals. In a statement, American Psychiatric Association President Dilip V. Jeste, MD, said, “On behalf of the leadership of the American Psychiatric Association and myself, I applaud the proposals set forth by President Barack Obama today aimed at reducing gun violence and preventing future horrific events such as the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last month. In particular, several proposals address the need to improve access to quality mental health care.” Jeste continued, “We are heartened that the Administration plans to finalize rules governing mental health parity under the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, the Affordable Care Act, and Medicaid.” The statement added, “We strongly urge the Administration to close loopholes involving so-called ‘non-quantitative treatment limits’ and to ensure that health plans deliver a full scope of mental health services in order to comply with the law.” Additionally, Jeste added, “We are glad that the President has clarified that doctors are not prohibited from asking their patients about guns in their homes. The APA has consistently advocated for such a position.” Jeste adds that the “APA intends to play an active role during Congressional discussions about the President’s proposed policies, particularly as they impact access to psychiatric treatment.”
— “Obama using gun issue to advance health law, ” Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, January 16, 2013.