Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Impact of Health Care Reform on Mental Health Treatment

Congratulations to President Obama and Congress for the historic passage of the health care reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), along with the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HR 4872) which makes improvements to the Senate bill. The reforms should provide quality, affordable health care to nearly all Americans for the first time in our nation's history.

So what does this mean for mental health care? As a Clinical Psychologist in private practice for the past 3 years, I have seen many patients struggle to afford the psychological treatment they needed for their mental health. When I first began my practice in 2007, essentially all of my patients were paying for therapy out of pocket, or without the help of their insurance benefits. In the Bay Area, the average cost is $150 per therapy hour, with some therapists allowing a sliding scale fee for therapy. My patients’ average length of treatment is approximately 4 months of weekly therapy, with some coming in for brief, specific types of treatment, and others choosing to engage in long term treatment for 2 years or more. While many of these patients have health insurance, their insurance benefits frequently do not cover their psychotherapy because their mental health diagnosis is not considered parity. (see What The California Mental Health Parity Law Means: AB 88.) Further, in the face of many job loses and the rapid decline of the American economy in recent times, many patients found themselves no longer able to afford to pay for psychotherapy out of pocket.

"These reforms will allow Americans to achieve full health and recovery through significant investments in expanded health care access, including mental health, substance use, rehabilitation and prevention services, as well as collaborative care and chronic care management," said Laurel Stine, director of federal relations at the - The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. "This is particularly notable given that four of the ten leading causes of disability in the United States are mental disorders and 87 percent of Americans cite lack of insurance coverage as the top reason for not seeking mental health services," Stine added.

"Furthermore, these reforms are truly significant triumphs in the integration of mental health in health care," said Stine. "Building upon the recent congressional victory of mental health parity in 2008, millions of Americans will have parity benefits and the guarantee of mental health coverage and will not live in fear of being denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, such as a mental disorder."

Only time will tell to what extent the health care reform will significantly influence the management of mental health problems in the United States. However, this appears to be a step in the right direction in addressing the dilemma of untreated mental illness in this country.

This article was composed by Christina Villarreal, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist in Oakland, CA

Sarah Palin gets reality show; political career in the tank

With her new reality TV Show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, Sarah Palin officially kissed her political career goodbye. Once a favorite as the possible Republican nominee for the 2012 Presidential Race, Sarah Palin's star fell when she lost the voting at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, gaining just seven percent of the vote, and way behind Rep. Ron Paul's 31 percent, and Mitt Romney's 22 percent.

But Sarah Palin was never really interested in being POTUS; Sarah wants to be known. Famous. Rich. Palin smartly - yes, smartly - cashed in on the spotlight she was thrown into after what initially seemed to be an angry reaction to first, being the whipping girl of the Republican Party after GOP Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain's loss to now-President Barack Obama in 2008, then being cast as sort of a pop-culture sex-symbol of buffoonery, Sarah Palin found her sea-legs as a Fox News Commentator and worked more in the direction of TV personality than future elected official.

The problem Palin created for herself is the vast array of recorded statements that may seem harmless today, but would come back to destroy her run for president, if she decided to do that. Sarah Palin did not know Africa was a continent and that was widely reported by Fox News:

And there are other examples of Sarah Palin's lack of knoweledge that would be thrown right back in her face if she ran for president.

But Sarah Palin the reality TV show star is real. She's going to make a lot of money from it and gain even more fame, but viewers will also watch to see if Palin makes any other stupid comment. Sorry to say, but that's the reputation she's carved for herself.

Stay tuned.

Sandra Bullock and Jesse James: Tim McGraw supports Bullock

Related searches: Brigitte Daguerre, Melissa Smith, Michelle McGee, Bombshell McGee, Jesse James mistresses, Jesse James affairs, Sandra Bullock news and updates

This Sandra Bullock and Jesse James update: Country Music Super Star Tim McGraw, who also played Bullock's husband in The Blind Side, offered words of support and encouragement in the wake of the news that Jesse James allegedly had affairs with as many as four women, from Michelle "Bombshell" McGee to Melissa Smith and Brigitte Daguerre, and another woman, not named as of this writing.

According to People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight in Canada, Tim McGraw said he had not reached out to Sandra Bullock, but "You know, she's got a lot on her plate. I just wish her nothing but the best." McGraw said Sandra Bullock was tough and "I'm not that tough."

Not many people are.