Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Art Levine and other mental health reform advocates on television. See a post-liberal Art Levine promote reform.C-SPAN.org: Search Results

Bogus 9/11 Tie to Iraq Rises Again.Bush Criticized Over Speech About Iraq War - Yahoo! News

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Tom Cruise attacks psychiatry; Patrick Kennedy fires back. At our mental health panel Friday at the Progressive Policy Institute, Rep. Patrick Kennedy attacked Tom Cruise for ridiculing the notion of mental illness as a biological illness. "Let me take Tom Cruise to the National Institute of Mental Health sometime," Rep. Kennedy said. DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2005� A late-night comedian, Craig Ferguson, also asked who are you going to believe (or words to this effect): "A doctor who was trained for ten years -- or a man who became famous jumping around in his underwear."
Here's the UPI dispatch on the forum (which overlooked the Kennedy-bashes-Cruise soundbites):

HEADLINE: PPI: Legislate parity for mental health
BODY:Congress should require insurers to treat mental healthcare the same as other medical coverage in the United States, according to a report released Friday by the Progressive Policy Institute.Art Levine, a PPI fellow and author of the report, wrote:

"The best-known reform goal, instituting parity for mental healthcare with other medical coverage, has been supported in the platforms of both political parties. But even with a majority of legislators in both houses of Congress endorsing the concept, it has yet to be carried out under federal law."

"Mental and physical health are intertwined, and we need to stop treating them as separate entities," said Cynthia Folcarelli, executive vice president of the consumer advocacy organization National Mental Health Association. The PPI -- which bills itself as an alternative to the traditional Democratic and Republican perspectives -- proposed Parity-Plus, which would require health-insurance companies to provide equal coverage for mental health. It also recommended improving the quality of mental healthcare by making healthcare providers accountable for results; removing barriers to the use of evidence-based practices; ensuring funding follows the consumer, not the agency; providing mental-health screening to protect children; and moving people with mental illnesses into employment while retaining their medical benefits.

During the forum, at which five policy leaders discussed the report, Levine said he became interested in mental-health policy through his work as an investigative journalist in Florida. "As a journalist, I've seen the best and the worst of the mental-health system," Levine said. "The worst can be seen every day on the third floor of the Miami-Dade County Jail."There, Levine said, he saw inmates manacled to rusting metal beds and screaming in gibberish.

In his report, Levine wrote there are five times as many mentally ill people in jails and prisons than in all state hospitals combined.Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., described the Parity-Plus proposal as laudable and ambitious, although he said he didn't share some of its means."First we have to understand that stigma is the defining factor in this issue," Kennedy said. "These stereotypes trump common sense, science and facts." Levine concurred that misconceptions about mental illness can inhibit access to mental healthcare."Families told me that when they would go for help, they would be blamed," Levine said.

Kennedy said the healthcare system currently views mental healthcare as "something between cosmetic surgery and physical health," while depression causes $31 billion in lost productivity every year, and the suicide rate is double the homicide rate.

Folcarelli said stigma against mental illness is displayed by insurers paying less for mental healthcare than for other types of care, even though research has shown treatment for many mental illnesses to be effective. "If quality were the issue, we would have parity," she said.

Speakers at the forum also discussed how proposed cuts to the Medicaid program -- $10 billion to $14 billion as a way to trim the federal budget -- could hurt mental health."We believe Medicaid needs to be fixed before any cuts are made," Levine said.

"At the state level, we see enormous cutbacks in the Medicaid system that are really hurting people with severe and persistent mental illness," said Andrew Sperling, director of legislative affairs for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. For example, a $6 monthly premium was applied to newly expanded Medicaid coverage in Oregon, and more than one-half of the people with mental illnesses who were supposed to benefit from the expanded coverage lost it because they had no income, the PPI report said.

"The Medicaid program, with all its flaws, is the most extensive program for mental health," Folcarelli said. "We need to protect that program from losing coverage, from some very, very tragic consequences."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mental health reform: how cost-effective, quality care can help solve the Medicaid crisis. PPI: Parity-Plus: A Third Way Approach to Fix America's Mental Health System by Art Levine

Friday, June 17, 2005

Hear it for yourself: the Democrats' own hearing on the Downing Street memoTHE BRAD BLOG: "Historic 'Downing Street' Hearings Adjourn!"

Monday, June 13, 2005

Congress For Sale. My article in American Prospect, "Delay Wannabes," looked at individual members of Congress besides DeLay who needed to be investigated. Drew's piece puts the corruption scandals in a broader context worth understanding. As Drew writes about the infamous "K Street Project" to force Democrats out of lobbying positions and bring in Republicans:

Jack Abramoff's behavior is symptomatic of the unprecedented corruption—the intensified buying and selling of influence over legislation and federal policy —that has become endemic in Washington under a Republican Congress and White House. Corruption has always been present in Washington, but in recent years it has become more sophisticated, pervasive, and blatant than ever. A friend of mine who works closely with lobbyists says, "There are no restraints now; business groups and lobbyists are going crazy—they're in every room on Capitol Hill writing the legislation. You can't move on the Hill without giving money."

This remark is only slightly exaggerated. For over ten years, but particularly since George W. Bush took office, powerful Republicans, among them Tom DeLay and Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, have been carrying out what they call the "K Street Project," an effort to place more Republicans and get rid of Democrats in the trade associations and major national lobbying organizations that have offices on K Street in downtown Washington (although, of course, some have offices elsewhere).

The Republican purge of K Street is a more thorough, ruthless, vindictive, and effective attack on Democratic lobbyists and other Democrats who represent businesses and other organizations than anything Washington has seen before. The Republicans don't simply want to take care of their friends and former aides by getting them high-paying jobs: they want the lobbyists they helped place in these jobs and other corporate representatives to arrange lavish trips for themselves and their wives; to invite them to watch sports events from skyboxes; and, most important, to provide a steady flow of campaign contributions. The former aides become part of their previous employers' power networks. Republican leaders also want to have like-minded people on K Street who can further their ideological goals by helping to formulate their legislative programs, get them passed, and generally circulate their ideas. When I suggested to Grover Norquist, the influential right-wing leader and the leading enforcer of the K Street Project outside Congress, that numerous Democrats on K Street were not particularly ideological and were happy to serve corporate interests, he replied, "We don't want nonideological people on K Street, we want conservative activist Republicans on K Street."

The K Street Project has become critical to the Republicans' efforts to control all the power centers in Washington: the White House, Congress, the courts—and now, at least, an influential part of the corporate world, the one that raises most of the political money. It's another way for Republicans to try to impose their programs on the country. The Washington Post reported recently that House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, of Missouri, has established "a formal, institutionalized alliance" with K Street lobbyists. They have become an integral part of the legislative process by helping to get bills written and passed—and they are rewarded for their help by the fees paid by their clients. Among the results are legislation that serves powerful private interests all the more openly—as will be seen, the energy bill recently passed by the House is a prime example —and a climate of fear that is new. The conservative commentator David Brooks said on PBS's NewsHour earlier this year, "The biggest threat to the Republican majority is the relationship on K Street with corporate lobbyists and the corruption that is entailed in that." But if the Republicans are running a risk of being seen as overreaching in their takeover of K Street, there are few signs that they are concerned about it.

Read more at:
The New York Review of Books: Selling Washington

Monday, June 06, 2005

Let's take a look: normally even-handed Russert gives GOP chairman free ride.The Huffington Post The Blog

Friday, June 03, 2005

Why other journalists backed away from the Felt story. Check out these ramblings from Felt, exhibiting either dementia or obtuse denials. Welcome to News Virginian: Serving the Waynesboro, VA region | On the trail of the secret informant

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