Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mental Health Insurance Parity- An Imperative

I know all the studies don't justify complete insurance parity for mental health services but a recent post by Cervantes in Stayin Alive Blog "A slightly puzzling result..." (April 3, 2006) http://healthvsmedicine.blogspot.com reminded me that I wanted to put forth a few of my views on this topic. For disclosure purposes I am not a trained Psychiatrist although my only honors in med school were in my Psychiatry rotation. I capitalized on my passion for mental health issues by becoming a leader in my chosen field of Occupational Medicine in the areas of work stress and what NIOSH (the research arm of Occupational Medicine) calls Organization of Work (OOW) . I was the only physician who consulted to NIOSH on it's OOW research team.

Well-"Enuf braggin". But as a practicing physician it became very apparent to me very early on that the prevalence of mental health issues was grossly underdiagnosed and went grossly un or undertreated in part because of lack of coverage by insurance companies.

I came up with two simple questions that I personally petitioned JCAHO that would require that every primary care physician be required to ask of patients during their very brief time with patients under our failed managed care system. The questions are "How are things at work?" and "How are things at home?". Patients could respond on a 1-10 Likert scale and be treated or referred if an emotional disorder was apparent. But alas JCAHO does not certify out-patient facilities yet.

The incidence of depression, anxiety and other mental health related conditions is well documented and is likely rising due to many reasons I won't go into today (please stay tuned)

Kudos to President Clinton for requiring mental health parity coverage for federal workers in 1999. President Bush has promised he would push for parity legislation. Don't hold your breath though folks. Instead he and Dr. Frist are putting the final nails in the coffin of our dying US Health Care System.

For some enlightened views on the imperative for mental health parity insurance coverage I refer you to the Progressive Policy Institute at www.ppionline.org
and The Commonwealth Fund at www.cmwf.org. Both of these progressive organizations are responsibly trying to lead us into a better US Health Care System. Read them and support them!

If you want material on work stress my favorite site is www.workhealth.org which has many good studies and links.

Also I would be very pleased to forward to any reader my work with NIOSH on Organization of Work (OOW) since not only are there very clear biological causes for serious mental health conditions- without any doubt there are psycho-social causes and contributions- believe me-big time. Just e-mail me at ralippin@aol.com

Thanks for your interest in Mental Health Insurance Coverage Parity. Its comin for all. We have no choice!

Dr. Rick Lippin ("Blake")


Anonymous Dennis Johnson said...

Dr. Blake, you are sadly mistaken if you think mental health parity is a coming for all of us!!!
Please take a moment to look up a bill which just came out of the US Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.
Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming introduced a bill in the Senate last November and it was referred to the above committee.. Senator Enzi is Chairman of this committee and it is made up of 11 Republicans and ( Democrats. The bill passed 11-9 for and it goes to the full senate for a vote.
This bill is S 1955. It has the potential to eliminate all mental health parities in the US. This bill would take precedence over State laws where health insurance is concerned.
Please read this bill and if you see is like many of us mentally
ill patients do, then please let everyone you know about this and urge them to contact their senator in protest of this bill.
Thank you.
Dennis Johnson
Raleigh, NC

2:09 PM  
Blogger Blake said...

thank you dennis johnson- I appreciate your calling our attention to the bill in your posted comment. When I said Mental Health parity is coming I believe it will come once we elect progressive lawmakers this Nov 2006 and after we elect a new progressive US President in 2008. In the meantime I realize that chronically mentally ill patients and those who need short term mental health services are indeed not generally receiving insurance coverage parity. Thanks again for taking the time to write.-Dr. Rick Lippin (Blake)

1:41 PM  
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11:12 PM  
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11:57 PM  
Blogger Cervantes said...

Hey Mr. Johnson, I'm not familiar with that bill but I'll look into it. I know that Sen. Kennedy has been trying to accomplish the opposite.

A great deal hinges on the November election, for all of us.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Blake said...

Cervantes-Thanks for helping to look into bill S 1955 which sounds foreboding -really apreciate your help on behalf of many who are interested in mental health parity like me- Dr. Rick Lippin (Blake)

1:43 PM  
Blogger jack said...

I am not a trained Psychiatrist although my only honors in med school were in my Psychiatry rotation.

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7:35 PM  
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