February 14, 2017
RALLY MONDAY TO SAVE HEALTHCARE
A coalition of advocates will rally at the Statehouse on Monday, February 27 at noon as part of the fight against ACA repeal and block granting Medicaid. Come and join those fighting to maintain access to full coverage for the treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders.
LONGTIME GOP CONGRESSMEN ATTRACTING A GROWING NUMBER OF PROTESTERS
Each Friday, NJ 11th for Change gathers at the office of U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) to bring him treats and their concerns about his recent votes to begin the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Carrying “Where’s Rodney?” signs and petitions, their tactics have been more congenial than confrontational. But as Frelinghuysen continues to appear to avoid them, and fails to schedule a town hall meeting, reportedly citing scheduling conflicts, the crowd has swelled from just three people on Jan. 9 to several hundred this week. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th) has faced similar protests at his office in Westfield this past week.
KIDS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS FORCED TO WAIT FOR CARE
One day, she ran for the scissors as she was saying she was going to cut her wrists. That’s when the family rushed their 14-year-old daughter to the nearest emergency room, and that’s when they learned about boarding. They had fallen victim to an overtaxed, fragmented mental health system that is especially short on beds, staffing and outpatient treatment for young mentally ill patients. It often results in the sickest children waiting hours, days or, as was the case with Andrea, weeks before they are admitted to a facility that can provide the specialized care they need — and spending the entire time in an emergency department is not unusual.
CONGRESSMAN MURPHY WANTS TO REVAMP HIPAA PRIVACY RULES
The 21st Century Cures Act passed by Congress in December will boost funding for medical research and experimental treatments, but U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy doesn’t think the law goes far enough to help people with mental health issues. Murphy thinks there should be clearer regulations on what doctors and licensed counselors can release. He hopes Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon and President Donald Trump’s nominee to head HHS, will issue new guidelines to ease those privacy rules.
“Families may know the person is in treatment and they are desperately calling for help,” Murphy said. “The family is aware there are problems, but there is poor or no communication.”
TREATMENT GREW UNDER HEALTH LAW. NOW WHAT?
As the debate over the fate of the health law intensifies, proponents have focused on the lifesaving care it has brought to people with cancer, diabetes and other physical illnesses. But the law has also had a profound, though perhaps less heralded, effect on mental health and addiction treatment, vastly expanding access to those services by designating them as “essential benefits” that must be covered through the A.C.A. marketplaces and expanded Medicaid.
WE NEED A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO N.J.’S OPIOID CRISIS | OPINION
Roughly half of those with addiction also suffer from a mental illness, so Horizon BCBSNJ is integrating medical and behavioral care to address the underlying mental health problems that often go undiagnosed, untreated and lead to substance abuse. We’re proactively engaging our members by funding community health workers, recovery addiction specialists, and intensive case management professionals. Like diabetes or cancer, addiction is a lifelong disease that requires a commitment to long-term management.
WHAT WE WRESTLE WITH, BEFORE A WORD IS WRITTEN
If there is one thing I wish readers knew about our work, it’s how we wrestle with certain stories – and whether to tell them at all. My colleague Kim Mulford received a phone call last week from a woman, who spoke with her about grabbing a young child and throwing her into the path of an oncoming train on Jan. 27. The child survived, but will no doubt grapple with that traumatic incident for a long time. What the story doesn’t reveal is the lengths Mulford and her editors went through to tell the story in a responsible manner, balancing compassion for the woman’s illness with their horror at what she did.