Friday, January 12, 2007
When the pathetic game of politics can still accomplish some good....(Mental Health Parity-Part I)
On his Exit, and clearly in preperation for his hope for a national stage, Governor Pataki signed into law, a Mental Health Parity bill. Not a great bill, with some costly compromises, but a good bill. I say that this is a result of a pathetic political game because, as you can see, Pataki was governor for several terms, and signed this law on his exit. Also, if he believed he could not work on this before, because it would be too costly for the state, it is telling that he did not mind saddling his predecessor with it. But it won't be too costly, of course. As the Federal Government has seen, while there may be a rise in the mental health care costs of the plan, there are cost savings to be had in lowered medical bills, less absenteeism and better employee productivity. Meaningful Helathcare Reform in this country will certainly entail Mental Health Parity, because of the benefits to the economy that a work force less challenged by mental illness will bring, as well as the needs to address the high cost opf mental health care for those chronically and pervasively challenged by mental illness. For them, an expansion of Residential programs, and a new effort to combat the secondary medical conditions we are seeing in the population due to side effects of the strongest medications and highest doses, need to be encouraged. On that front, I am involved in developing, with the guidance and resources of a dynamic, state of the art Residential system, a program to coordinate diet, exercise, psychiatric and case management to aid in medical and psychiatric adherence as well as use diet and exercise to combat these side effects. One area to explore, especially in light of recent studies questioning the benefits of some of the newer medications for some patients, is creating protocols to keep certain medications for use as a last resort, for those in the population who are clearly most susceptible to the potential damaging side effects, such as obesity and Type 2 Diabetes that are being observed. Any valuable protocols will clearly need to be useful for the many facets of a comprehensive Residential System (from group home and scatter site housing). Soon I will be posting updates on these projects as well as the development of an anti-stigma campaign that has been mentioned here before. However, I think it is time we once again work on some issues regarding medical healthcare reform, and look in on some of the things going on around the country.