Historic Health Reform Overhaul Approved: A Victory for Advocates
The approval of health reform legislation is historic and a great victory for advocates like you. Your voice was critical in keeping the process moving and winning passage of this landmark law. Thank you for being involved. The legislation will cover most uninsured Americans while holding down costs and improving the quality of care we all receive. Access to mental health care and substance use treatment will be greatly expanded and significant steps will be taken to improve coordination between behavioral health and general health care. And it significantly builds upon the federal mental health parity law.
Senate Jobs Bill Includes Medicaid Funding Increase
The Senate earlier this month passed a jobs bill that includes an increase in federal Medicaid matching funds through July of 2011. Thank you responding to our alert and contacting your Senators on this important issue. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included a temporary increase (through the end of this year) in federal Medicaid matching funds to help alleviate state budget pressures and prevent cuts in coverage during the current economic downturn. With states continuing to face extraordinary difficulty balancing their budgets for the next fiscal year, an extension of this increase is crucial. As a result many are considering cutting Medicaid benefits and eligibility, as well as provider rates as they develop their 2011 budgets. The House passed an extension of the increase last December as part of a separate jobs bill. House and Senate negotiators are now working to blend the two pieces of legislation and craft a final version so the increase can become law.
Action Alert: Help Keep Our Students Safe-Contact Your Senators
Every child should be safe and protected while in school. But a May 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requested by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA), cites hundreds of cases where a student was allegedly abused by an inappropriate use of seclusion or restraint, including some cases where the abuse was fatal. Many of these interventions were used disproportionately on some of our most vulnerable students—children with disabilities.
Mental Health America has joined a broad group of health and disability organizations in support of legislation that would for first time set minimum federal standards on the use of restraint and seclusion in all schools receiving federal support. Because of Rep. Miller’s leadership and the support of advocates like you, the House of Representatives last week passed his groundbreaking legislation--the “Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act” (H.R. 4247) that will address these problems and ensure the safety of both students and school staff.
Now we need the Senate to act. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has introduced a companion bill (S. 2860), which is awaiting committee action. Tell Your Senator to cosponsor this vital legislation. TAKE ACTION!
Resources on Parity on Website; Tell Us Your Story
Our website has updated information on the federal mental health parity law, including a fact sheet on the interim rule issued by federal agencies and a webinar. We would also like to hear about your experience with the new law. Go to our parity page to tell us how your plan has changed. If you suspect your plan is not in compliance, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration has benefit advisors who are available to answer your questions about the parity law and provide assistance in obtaining your benefits. You can send an inquiry using an online form linked here or call toll-free: 1-866-444-EBSA (3272).
May is Mental Health Month: Live Your Life Well
Mental Health America continues its tradition in celebrating "May is Mental Health Month," which began in 1949. This year, our theme "Live Your Life Well" challenges us to promote health and wellness in homes, communities, schools, and inform those how to attain it.