Advocacy E-News January 28, 2014
January 28, 2014
PROPOSED MEDICARE DRUG CHANGE STIRS ACCESS WORRIES
In a move that some fear could compromise care for Medicare recipients, the Obama administration is proposing to remove special protections that guarantee seniors access to a wide selection of three types of drugs. The three classes of drugs – widely used antidepressants, antipsychotics and drugs that suppress the immune system to prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ – have enjoyed special “protected” status since the launch of the Medicare prescription benefit in 2006. Advocates for patients are strongly criticizing the idea, saying it could potentially limit access to critically needed medications that have made the benefit work for people with mental illness.
FOR THE MENTALLY ILL, IT’S WORSE
The deinstitutionalization movement was well underway when Sheehan was doing her reporting. In the 1960s, during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the federal government passed a series of laws designed to liberate the mentally ill from the acknowledged horrors of mental hospitals, where they were often confined for decades. The idea was that with the introduction of powerful new antipsychotic drugs, people with schizophrenia could live outside a mental hospital — and that hospital stays would be much shorter. The federal government gave money to communities to set up local mental health centers as well as housing for the mentally ill. But there were also many people for whom the drugs did not have a pronounced effect — or who stopped taking the drugs as soon as they left the hospital. Yet there were no longer enough hospital beds for them, hence the need for hospitals to drug them up and move them out.
HALF OF PSYCHIATRISTS REJECT HEALTH INSURANCE
US psychiatrists have the lowest acceptance rate for all types of health insurance compared with physicians in other specialties, new research suggests. Results from a national survey show that psychiatrists increasingly refuse to accept Medicare and Medicaid, or even private insurance. Instead, psychiatrists were likely to charge cash for their services.
WOODY GUTHRIE’S DAUGHTER WANTS TO PRESERVE GREYSTONE, HER DAD’S OLD HOME
Woody Guthrie, the pioneering folksinger and Depression-era workers’ advocate whose original songs included “This Land is Your Land,” arrived at Greystone in 1956 at the age of 44 after he was picked up for vagrancy in Morristown. When Guthrie told hospital staffers he had written a book and published songs, they didn’t believe him and decided he was a paranoid schizophrenic. Living on Ward 40 at the Parsippany hospital, Guthrie still managed to make the best of the situation. The experience has led his daughter Nora Guthrie to join with those who want to preserve the closed hospital building. Guthrie talked about a variety of topics, including her father’s battle with Huntington’s and Bob Dylan’s frequent visits with the hospitalized folksinger.
“We’re going to make something great out of Greystone,” Nora Guthrie said.