mental health in the headlines: Week of February 1, 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?
Young children whose parents have bipolar disorder have a higher risk of mental health problems…more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Democrats Chart Strategy for Passage
Although Democrats are taking a break on health reform, a strategy is starting to emerge on pushing through a bill in the weeks ahead. The plan would have the House pass the legislation approved by the Senate. At the same time, Senate Democrats would approve changes to their plan using a procedure—known as reconciliation—that would prevent a filibuster. One of the changes that would be made to the Senate bill involves eliminating a provision that had the government paying for the entire cost of Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion. Instead, the federal government would cover a larger share of Medicaid costs for all states. One of the sticking points of the strategy is reaching consensus on an excise tax on generous health plans, which many believe would help hold down costs. Additionally, some senators oppose using the reconciliation procedure. (The Treatment [The New Republic], 1/30/10)
Budget Includes $25 Billion for Medicaid Originally Planned for Reform Bill
The federal Fiscal Year 2011 budget being released today includes an additional $25 billion in Medicaid funding for states—money that was originally to be included in a health reform overhaul. Some states had already included the extra funds in their state budgets in anticipation of passage of reform legislation. The increase represents a six-month extension of a Medicaid funding increase that was part of last year's stimulus package. Without the extension, the extra money would expire at the end of the year. (The Wall Street Journal, 2/01/10)
Government Issues Regulations for Parity Law
Under regulations issued last week by the federal government to implement federal mental health parity legislation, insurers would be able to review claims for medical necessity, require prior approval for some services, and charge consumers more for using doctors and hospitals that are not on the list of preferred providers. But the rules prohibit insurers from using these techniques in a more restrictive way for mental health care than for other medical services. The regulations also say that a health plan would violate the law if it imposes a separate deductible for mental health and substance use benefits if it also imposes a deductible for all medical-surgical benefits. (The New York Times, 1/30/10)
Teenage Pregnancy Rate Rose in 2006
Teenage pregnancy rate among girls 15 to 19 rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to a new analysis. The increase reverses a decade of declining pregnancies. The Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan research group, also found that the teenage abortion rate rose 1 percent during the same period. Other research has found that births among the same age group rose from 2005 to 2006. (The New York Times, 1/27/10)
Number of Americans in Excellent or Good Health Declined in 2009
The percentage of people who reported having excellent or very good health declined in 2009, according to the government. The National Center on Health Statistics found 66.6 percent of the public said they felt good, down from 69.1 percent in 1998. The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes rose to 8.8 percent from 5.3 percent in 1997. The percentage of adults reporting serious psychological distress stayed about the same—around 3 percent. (The New York Times, 1/26/10)
Caregivers of Injured Vets Face Emotional, Financial Challenges
Caregivers of severely injured veterans and their families face emotional and financial pressures and difficulty accessing military medical care. Advocates say that caregivers—many of whom have quit their jobs or used up their savings—are a vulnerable group, often under-recognized, and in need of help to navigate the military's medical system. Legislation now being considered in Congress would provide caregivers financial support, including health insurance. (USA Today, 1/26/10)
Workers Fear Stigma of Seeking Help for Mental Health Conditions
American workers are hesitant about seeking treatment for mental health conditions because of a lack of confidentiality and fear it will affect their job status, a new survey finds. The online poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that more than 40 percent of the 1,129 respondents said their employer was supportive or extremely supportive of their workers seeking care for health concerns. Among employees, 76 percent believed their work status would be damaged by seeking treatment for drug addiction, 73 percent for alcoholism, and 62 percent for depression, compared with 55 percent who thought seeking care for diabetes would affect their work status and 54 percent for heart disease. (HealthDay News, 1/30/10)
Judi Chamberlain, Mental Health Advocate, Dies
Judi Chamberlain, who championed the rights of mental health patients, died last week at the age of 65. Chamberlain was involuntarily committed to a hospital for depression while in her twenties. After her release, she became an advocate for mental health patients and wrote the book “On Our Own.” In it, she argued that the a person’s ability to have some say in their own treatment was a key part of making that treatment work. (The New York Times, 1/30/10)
Childhood Clues Found for Adults with Schizophrenia: Adults with schizophrenia have a pattern of cognitive difficulties as children, new research finds. The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, used data from a long-term study of 1,000 New Zealanders, and reviewed cognitive tests taken over time. The researchers found adults with schizophrenia had early deficits in verbal and visual learning, reasoning and conceptualization that remained with them as they grew. They also showed slower development than their peers in processing speed, attention, visual-spatial problem-solving and working memory. (ScienceDaily, 1/22/10)
Children of Bipolar Parents at Risk for Mental Health Problems: Young children whose parents have bipolar disorder have a higher risk of mental health problems, according to a new study. Researchers compared 121 children ages 2 to 5 from 83 parents with bipolar disorder with 102 children of the same age from 65 comparison group parents with no history of bipolar disorder. The results, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that children of bipolar parents had an eight-fold higher risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared to young children of mentally healthy parents. They also had a six-fold higher risk of having two or more mental health conditions. (Reuters, 1/28/10)
Viral Infection Linked to Schizophrenia: Unborn offspring can be predisposed to schizophrenia by a viral infection in the womb, new research suggests. Scientists in Israel exposed pregnant rats to a chemical that mimics the infectious properties of a virus. Brain scans were then used to monitor the progress of their offspring. The study, reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry, showed affected rat pups were normal at birth and during adolescence, but in early adulthood began to show schizophrenia-like symptoms. The study also suggests that early use of drugs can stop the illness from developing. (ScienceDaily, 1/29/10)
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
The new federal mental health parity law prevents many insurers from placing limits on behavioral health services that are more restrictive than those for general medical care. If an insurer denies coverage, an individual can request its standards for medical necessity and reason for the denial. Kirsten Beronio of Mental Health America suggests including a note from a doctor stating why treatment is needed and that its denial could harm one’s health. Money, “See a therapist for a lot less,” January, 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
Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Mental Health America's Mental Health in the Headlines staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations; Robert Redpath, director, Web Technology.
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