Dear E-News Subscriber,

Welcome to NAMI's latest vehicle for keeping you informed about public policy issues affecting people living with serious mental illnesses: NAMI Statehouse Spotlight.

As someone who cares about the impact of public policy and believes in the power of advocacy, we hope you will appreciate this effort to keep you informed of trends at the state level.  Please read through this first issue and decide for yourself.  If you would like to continue to receive these bi-weekly updates directly in your inbox, you must click here to subscribe. Otherwise, you will receive no further editions.

Sincerely,

Steven Buck
NAMI Director of State Policy


September 7, 2005

News from the States

To follow up on any of the items featured in this publication, please contact Steven Buck, director of state policy at sbuck@nami.org

Report Confirms Spending Money in All the Wrong Places

The West Virginia Medicaid program served 1500 more homeless persons in 2003 than in 2001. Also, the state saw an increase in outpatient commitments of 45% during the same time frame. These unfortunate trends occurred while the state was reducing Medicaid payments for mental health treatment and prevention by $30 million, almost half of previous funding levels. The state also reports an increase in incarceration rates for people with mental illness and a jump to record levels of suicide. (West Virginia Gazette, August 28, 2005)

Missouri Cuts Medicaid without Monitoring Effects

On September 1, 100,000 Missourians lost Medicaid eligibility due to recent cuts to the program. Additionally, 250,000 experienced a reduction in benefits. Yet, Missouri’s Social Services Department will only track those who qualify for services in the future. (Missourian, August 30, 2005)

New Hampshire Advocates Curb Threatened Medicaid Amendments

Proposals by New Hampshire Health Commissioner John Stephen have been scaled back due to criticism by advocates, the governor, and law makers. Stephen’s original proposal would have created strict tests on eligibility for both seniors and children. State leaders were especially troubled by the impact the changes would have had on the state’s Healthy Kids Program. (Boston Globe, August 30, 2005)

Effective Advocacy Changes Kentucky Approach

As the state of Kentucky embarked on different attempts to cut the state’s Medicaid programs, advocates never wavered in their commitment to preserve and improve the existing program. The advocacy has paid off with recent decisions to preserve services for 49,000 low-income children and the implementation of patient protections for individuals receiving psychotropic medications for the treatment of mental illness. (The Courier Journal, August 29, 2005)

Georgia Reforms to Threaten Community Services and Supports

Under reform plans submitted by Governor Perdue, important community based services such as the state’s Community Care Services Program (CCSP) are at risk. The programs provide important services that allow people to live in the community as opposed to facing residence in an institution. Georgia is one of dozens of states contemplating significant program reform. (The Brunswick News, August 31, 2005)

NAMI Advocacy Tools & Resources

NAMI Florida and coalition partners have joined together to track the impact of restrictive medication policies on participants in the state’s Medicaid program. The coalition is actively encouraging recipients to call a medications access hotline to report on difficulties in accessing needed medications. To learn more about NAMI Florida’s efforts, click here.

As NAMI Ohio and advocacy partners strive to make Ohio the 37th state to offer mental health parity, their efforts have been bolstered by a report released by State Senator Bob Spada and Representative Jon Peterson. The report provides a solid summary of the existing literature on mental health parity. Click here to download a copy of the report.    

Washington Quick Glance

Congress Considers Reductions to Medicaid Funding for ACT Programs

This week Congress is set to begin work on a massive budget measure that includes a requirement to limit future Medicaid spending by $10 billion over the next 5 years.  Among the proposals under consideration is a significant restriction on the ability of state Medicaid programs to support intensive case management for children and adults with severe mental illness.  In recent years, many states have begun using available options under Medicaid (targeted case management and rehabilitation) to finance intensive case management as part of assertive community treatment (ACT) programs.

NAMI is currently urging Congress to: 1) reject restrictions to the definition of rehabilitation and case management services recommended by the Bush Administration, 2) reject increases in co-payments for non-preferred prescription drugs covered under Medicaid, and 3) resist efforts to restrict access to medications to treat mental illness through prior authorization, step therapy and mandatory therapeutic substitution requirements implemented as part of state supplemental rebate programs.

More details on the Bush Administration's proposal to curtail Medicaid funding for targeted case management and rehabilitation services is available on the NAMI website.


If you would like to continue to receive these bi-weekly updates directly in your inbox, you must click here to subscribe.


NAMI Statehouse Spotlight is an electronic newsletter provided free of charge as a public service. With more than 200,000 members and 1,200 state and local affiliates, NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe mental illnesses. Contributions to support our work can be made online at www.nami.org/donate.

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please send an email to sbuck@nami.org.


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