Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 29, 2010
mental health in the headlines
Week of March 29, 2010
Mental Health in the Headlines offers summaries of the latest news and views in the mental health field. Coverage of news items in this publication does not represent Mental Health America's support for or opposition to the stories summarized or the views they express.
*DID YOU KNOW?
Having more children may lower a mother’s risk of suicide...more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Insurance Companies Challenge Requirement on Pre-existing Conditions
Although the new health care reform legislation bans insurers beginning this September from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, insurance companies are arguing the law is less clear. They claim the legislation does not require them to sell coverage to somebody with a pre-existing condition and that hey can increase premiums to cover the additional cost. The Obama administration plans to issue to issue regulations that would clarify that the term ‘pre-existing’ applies to both a child’s access to a plan and his or her benefits once he or she is in a plan. But insurance company lawyers said the rules could be challenged in court if they went beyond the law or were inconsistent with it. (The New York Times, 3/29/10)
Health Reform Challenges Communities, Clinicians to Reduce Costs
Atul Gawande, a surgeon and highly respected commentator on health reform, says the new law offers to free communities and local health systems from existing payment rules and let them experiment with ways to deliver better care at lower costs. In large part, it entrusts the task of devising cost-saving health-care innovation to communities rather than he public and private insurers that have failed to do so. Rather than giving more power to government, it relies on local communities and clinicians for success. (The New Yorker, 3/29/10 [April 5, 2010 issue])
Obama to Nominate Health Policy Leader as CMS Head
President Obama plans to nominate Dr. Donald M. Berwick, a leading scholar on health policy, as the new head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services. Experts are hailing the nomination, noting that Berwick has advocated many of the ideas incorporated into the new health reform law. As head of the agency, Berwick would implement many of the major provisions of new enacted legislation. Berwick has challenged health care organizations to deliver care more deliver care more safely and efficiently in ways that not only saves lives but reduce wasteful spending. He is known for his “100,000 Lives” campaign built around the idea that certain specific practices can eliminate that number of deaths that occur from medical errors. (The New York Times, 3/28/10)
Native Americans Tell Senate Panel of Suicide Crisis
Native Americans told a Senate panel last week that urgent action is needed to stem the problem of suicides problem of suicide among their population. Tribal suicide rates are 70 percent higher than for the general population, and the youth suicide rate is even higher. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said the rate of youth suicide is a tragedy, but also preventable. He said the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, approved as the part of the health care reform law, would authorize a comprehensive youth suicide prevention effort on Indian reservations. The bill also boosts mental health resources throughout Indian Country. (Associated Press, 3/26/10)
Advocates Charge Illinois Budget Cuts Would Undercut Historic Settlement
Mental health advocates say proposed cuts to Illinois’ budget could undercut a landmark legal settlement to move 4500 individuals with mental illness from nursing homes to supportive housing. Governor Pat Quinn has proposed cutting $90 million from community mental health care. Mark Heyrman, public policy chair for Mental Health America of Illinois, says the cuts to the state budget would make it impossible for the state to comply with the settlement. (Chicago Public Radio, 3/26/10)
NIMH Head Calls for Transparency, Disclosure of Industry Ties
The head of the National Institute for Mental Health says psychiatrists need to break away from a "culture of influence" created by their financial dealings with the drug industry. Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Thomas does not call on researchers to stop taking money from companies. But he says there is a “bias in prescribing practices" that favors brand names drugs over cheaper generics and non-drug treatments. He says the situation must change with new standards for transparency and full disclosure of psychiatry's collaborations with industry. The health care reform law requires drugmakers and others to file annual reports to the government on their financial ties to doctors and requires a database the public can search for their own doctors' ties to industry. (Associated Press, 3/25/10)
Joblessness Affects Children’s Emotional Well-Being
Children living in households with at least one jobless parent face a number of emotional issues, including stress and depression as well as poor school performance and behavioral problems. A loss of health insurance and lower standard of living also often leads to poor health for these children. Nationally, one in seven children (10.5 million kids) has an unemployed parent. (HealthDay News, 3/25/10)
Having More Kids May Decrease Risk of Suicide: Having more children may lower a mother’s risk of suicide, according to a new study. The findings support the view that the bonds between people, including between mother and child, help prevent suicide. For the study, researchers followed almost 1.3 million women in Taiwan who had given birth at least once. Women with two children were 39 percent less likely than those with one child to commit suicide. That risk was 60 percent lower among women with three or more children, Dr. Chun-Yuh Yang, of Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan reports in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The rate of suicide among women with no children couldn’t be reported because data is not kept on pregnancies that end before term. Dr. Yang also notes that a cause-and-effect relationship linking motherhood to reductions in suicide could not be established from this type of research. (Reuters, 3/23/10)
Screening Tool May Misidentify Borderline Personality Disorder as Bipolar: A widely-used screening tool for bipolar disorder may incorrectly indicate borderline personality disorder instead, according to a new study. A research team interviewed nearly 500 patients using the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) and the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ). In an article that appears online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the researchers report that when they scored the questionnaires, they found that patients with a positive indication for bipolar disorder using the MDQ were as likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder as bipolar disorder when using the structured clinical interview. Further, their findings indicate that borderline personality disorder was four times more frequently diagnosed in the group who screened positive on the MDQ. (ScienceDaily, 3/28/10)
*HEADLINES at Mental Health America
Mental Health America Hail Enactment of Historic Health Reform Bill: "This health care reform legislation marks a tremendous step forward in our efforts to improve access to care for individuals with mental health or substance use conditions and in our advocacy for prevention of these conditions," said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America.
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Mental health and addiction disorder organizations are praising health reform legislation. Mental Health America's David Shern hailed the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Miwatch.org, “Passing Health Reform Energizes Advocates,” March 24, 2010
Stay Up to Date With More News, Views and Tools
- New national survey shows economic downturn taking toll on Americans’ mental health
- Survey reveals obstacles to health care for people who have schizophrenia
- New report reveals link between states’ depression status and access to treatment
- Join Mental Health America’s Advocacy Network
- Check out previous issues of Mental Health in the Headlines
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