The Truth: Discrimination in the AHCA

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden  

Today’s blog is a sharp veer off the regular trail. How can one be a mental health and recovery advocate and not point out injustice?

Today Congress will vote on the new proposed American Health Care Act (Trumpcare). Of course, having passed 100 days in office with scarcely a win, Donald Trump and the Republicans are scrambling to make a good impression.

Why not push through an incomplete, discriminatory health care act that will appease the Far Right (by effectively ending the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)? The first time around the proposal could not garner enough support. Now, with the “McArthur Amendment,” this second attempt includes giving states the right to deny mental health and substance use insurance coverage to their citizens or to charge more for it than for non-mental health related concerns. 

Here are three stories that may or may not affect how you feel about all this. These are people I know personally.

NEAL is a college drop-out with few prospectives. However, he is not lazy. Anxiety and Depressive Disorders sap him of energy, motivation, rationale, and care about his life. These mental illnesses are why he left school even though his grades had been above average. 

His parents are recovering alcoholics. Only within the last year did they stop drinking and start trying to set their family on a positive path financially. Their weak work histories hold them back from finding employment, so they have set out on their own. They bought an onlne business which is failing miserably. Neal’s dad is self-employed as an electrician. 

They cannot yet afford medical health care. The ACA offers full coverage for substance use and mental health issues on par with any other illness. When Neal’s parents are covered by the ACA, they will have access to doctors and counselors, greatly increasing their chances for successful recovery. Neal will receive the necessary medications and counseling for him to think clearly, return to school, and live a normal, productive life. 

JEFF is an ex-radio host who used to make a very solid income. Then he was the victim of sexual assault. HIs subsequent PTSD and depression fed an undertreated OCD and he lives in fear of leaving his home.  He cannot find affordable health care even through the ACA. However, laws enacted due to the ACA make it possible for him to dream. One day he hopes to buy an insurance plan that will cover all of his mental healthcare needs. One day, he hopes to function and hold down a regular job again.

NINA is a creative entrepreneur. Last fall she was in need of replacement insurance. Through the ACA she found a plan her low-income can handle. It covers her medical needs and mental health care at an equal rate. Under the new AHCA, if it passes, she could lose the mental healthcare. Her PTSD, Anxiety DIsorder, and Major Depression will go untreated as meds will become unaffordable.

Untreated major depression tends to become worse and more frequent. This is a life and death issue for Nina, as her mental health needs are severe.  Nina is a hard worker and quite productive on good days. However, her mental illness slows her down and ultimately she is able to work part-time and sporadically. Without treatment, even this will dwindle until there is nothing.  

With these three stories, do you see fairness in the AHCA? People who receive professional mental healthcare return to more satisfying and productive lives at a rate of 80%! On the other hand, those without it often go on disability, use human services, are possibly homeless, or victims of death by suicide.

Today’s Helpful Word

Zechariah 7:9-10

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. 

*********

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*Capitol pic by PURPLEPIC on rgbstock.com

*Gavel pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com

 

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