Latest News Around the Web
The New York Times (6/22, Pear, Kaplan, Subscription Publication) reports that on Thursday, Senate Republicans “took a major step” towards their goal of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act by “unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance.” The measure “would create a new system of federal tax credits to help people buy health insurance, while offering states the ability to drop many of the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, like maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment.” The article says that although GOP senators had promised their ACA repeal bill would significantly modify the American Health Care Act which the House passed last month, the proposal which was put forward maintains the AHCA’s “structure, with modest adjustments.”
USA Today (6/22, Kelly, Collins) reports the Senate’s bill differs from the AHCA in that “it does away with a controversial House provision – which critics dubbed an ‘age tax’ – that would greatly increase costs for older Americans who need subsidies to pay for medical coverage.” In addition, the Senate’s version “would tie subsidies to income rather than age,” but this would “make it harder for people to qualify for the subsidies by tightening the income requirements.” Republican leaders are saying this bill is the party’s best option to keep conservatives’ promise to repeal and replace the ACA.
The Wall Street Journal (6/22, A1, Armour, Peterson, Radnofsky, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page that the bill would unwind major provisions of the ACA, such as its expansion of Medicaid. The article says Republicans are hoping to move quickly to pass an ACA repeal bill before the July 4 recess. However, some GOP lawmakers in the Senate say they are worried about some of the changes included in the measure.
The Los Angeles Times (6/22, Levey, Mascaro) reports that the bill includes “a drastic reduction in federal healthcare spending that threatens to leave millions more Americans uninsured, drive up costs for poor consumers and further destabilize the nation’s health insurance markets.”
On its website, ABC News (6/22, Stracqualursi, Adam Kelsey, Rogin) says top medical groups criticized the bill. For instance, the American Psychiatric Association’s CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, MD, said, “The Senate proposal represents a significant move in the wrong direction, resulting in fewer people having access to insurance, fewer patient protections, and less coverage for essential behavioral health care.”
The Huffington Post (6/22, Holmes) reports, “Mental health organizations have been expressing concern about how the Republican effort to repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act “could affect people living with mental illness.” For example, “American Psychiatric Association officials noted that they were not consulted on the House version or the Senate’s draft legislation.”
Psychiatric News (6/22) quotes Dr. Levin, who also said, “We urge the Senate to reject this harmful legislation and start again on a health care bill that puts patients first.” Meanwhile, APA President-Elect Altha Stewart, MD, said in a June 21 press release, “Eliminating requirements for coverage of key benefits, including mental health and substance use disorders and other patient protections that are part of the Affordable Care Act, will have detrimental impacts for millions.” Dr. Stewart added, “Mental health is critical to overall health and needs to be equally accessible.”
— “Senate Health Care Bill Includes Deep Cuts to Medicaid,” ROBERT PEAR and THOMAS KAPLAN, New York Times, June 23, 2017.
The Wall Street Journal (6/22, King, Subscription Publication) reports that healthcare professionals say that patients who struggle with opioid addiction are increasingly turning to the black market due to a lack of access to treatment options, especially medication-based addiction treatment. Experts are increasingly recommending medication-based treatment, combined with counseling, to treat opioid addiction.
— “Lacking Treatment Options, Opioid Addicts Turn to Black Market,” Kate King, Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2017.
HealthDay (6/22, Preidt) reports, “More than one in five children with Tourette syndrome also tests positive for autism,” investigators found in a study including “535 children and adults with Tourette’s.” It is unlikely, however, that “so many children actually have both disorders.” What appears more likely is that “Tourette’s symptoms often mimic or seem quite similar to those of autism, the researchers noted.” The findings were published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
— “When is Tourette Syndrome Actually Autism?,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, June 22, 2017.
The New York Times (6/20, A1, Pear, Steinhauer, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page that growing dissension “among Senate Republicans over federal spending on Medicaid and the opioid epidemic is imperiling legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act that Senate leaders are trying to put to a vote by the end of next week.” The article says although President Trump urged senators to be more generous in their bill than the House was, on Tuesday, GOP leaders in the Senate “appeared to be drafting legislation that would do even more to slow the growth of Medicaid toward the end of the coming decade.” The piece adds that several lawmakers are warning the current measure would imperil consumers’ access to addiction treatment.
The AP (6/20, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports that the effort to repeal the ACA “is colliding with the opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties.” Figures indicate “Medicaid expansion accounted for 61 percent of total Medicaid spending on substance abuse treatment in Kentucky, 47 percent in West Virginia, 56 percent in Michigan, 59 percent in Maryland, and 31 percent in Rhode Island.” The article adds that during a recent hearing, HHS Secretary Tom Price “defended the Trump administration and raised questions about how much difference Medicaid actually makes.” He explained that HHS’ “budget for the opioid crisis is more than three times greater than two years ago, $811 million versus $245 million,” which “reflects increases approved by Congress beyond what Medicaid spends.”
— “G.O.P. Rift Over Medicaid and Opioids Imperils Senate Health Bill,” ROBERT PEAR and JENNIFER STEINHAUER, New York Times, June 20, 2017.
The Washington Post (6/20, Achenbach, Keating) reports that the opioid epidemic is “swamping hospitals,” with a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality “showing 1.27 million emergency room visits or inpatient stays for opioid-related issues in a single year.” According to the report, Maryland tops the list for inpatient care due to opioids.
— “In just one year, nearly 1.3 million Americans needed hospital care for opioid-related issues,” Joel Achenbach and Dan Keating, Washington Post, June 20, 2017.
The Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry, Inc.’s latest public service announcement on local Maryland radio stations focuses on how how various illnesses can be linked to depression. Being ill by itself can often be enough to cause depression, but many illnesses can affect the brain and lead to depression, too. The spot urges people to seek help when needed.
Illness and DepressionIllness and Depression
The Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry, Inc.’s latest public service announcement on local Maryland radio stations focuses on guns and mental illness, and specifically on the role guns play in depression and suicide.
Guns and Mental IllnessGuns and Mental Illness
The Maryland Parity Project is an initiative of the Mental Health Association of Maryland that “works to educate insured Marylanders of their new rights in accessing mental health and addiction treatment under The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.”
Their website says understanding the complex system of state and federal rules governing mental health coverage can be very difficult. Their staff hopes to alleviate concern and stress by answering questions for insured Maryland citizens. They will provide case assistance as well as evaluate complaints, help with appeals to an insurer’s decision, and assist filing complaints with the proper government authority.
You can find more information at their website here: Maryland Parity Project
The Maryland Parity Project is a featured link on our Links page.
The Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry, Inc.’s latest public service announcement on local Maryland radio stations focuses on the real statistics concerning mental illness and violence. It discusses the problem of cuts in mental illness coverage by insurance companies and less focus by government.
Nominations are now being accepted for the Foundation’s 2013 Outstanding Merit Award.
The annual Outstanding Merit Award is given for a worthy endeavor in Maryland that accomplishes one or more of the following:
- Increases public awareness and understanding of mental illness
- Enhances the quality of care for psychiatric illness
- Reduces the stigma of mental illness
Nominations for this award of $1000 are being invited from the entire Maryland community. A short nomination form must be submitted with a cover letter by March 1, 2013, to the Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry, 1101 Saint. Paul Street, Suite 305, Baltimore, MD 21202-6405. The form is available as PDF or Word document.