November 30, 2005

NAMI’s Statehouse Spotlight is a biweekly electronic public policy news resource containing recaps of recent media coverage and useful grassroots tools gathered from across the country.  NAMI leaders and advocates are encouraged to use this information to energize their thinking as they plan future advocacy efforts.

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

Pennsylvania Moves to Restrict Medication Access

Pennsylvania recently implemented a preferred drug list (PDL) in order to address rising costs within the state Medicaid program’s prescription drug benefit. The state’s PDL includes a grandfather provision for certain types of medications, allowing recipients demonstrating success on a non-preferred drug to continue to receive that medication without interruption. According to a consultant associated with the state office of medical assistance programs, persons who have been treated within the past year on a specific antipsychotic can continue to receive that medication without prior-authorization. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 25, 2005)

Overhaul of Los Angeles County Mental Health System Begins

Buoyed by new revenue from the state’s recently passed Millionaire’s Tax, Los Angeles County has allocated $280 million over the next three years to overhaul the region’s underfunded mental health system. One hundred forty million dollars is earmarked to provide housing for 4,500 individuals with severe mental illness who are now homeless or in jail. And $140 million will be used to provide services for 52,000 people, including foster children, youth in the county’s probation system and juvenile halls, and people who rotate through the county’s psychiatric emergency rooms. (Pasadena Star News, November 16, 2005)

Nebraska Official Urges Caution in Medicaid Reform

Citing a need to monitor reform experiments underway in other states, the director of Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services Finance and Support concluded that Medicaid Reform for the state is premature. A state Medicaid Reform Advisory Panel has been evaluating reform initiatives and considered a defined contribution system. Currently, Medicaid accounts for 17 percent of Nebraska’s state budget, and provides health benefits to one in seven state citizens. (Associated Press, November 18, 2005)

Controlling Medicaid Top Priority for Virginia House Republicans

Noting that Medicaid was the fastest-growing segment of Virginia’s state budget, House republican leaders have pledged action in 2006 to address Medicaid Costs. The representatives proposed health savings accounts as a tool to influence spending and personal accountability. Additional savings initiatives would include greater use of electronic records, long-term care tax credits, and increases in the use of managed care. (Washington Post, November 21, 2005)

Available Resources Tight in Kansas; Additional Medicaid Oversight Planned

The state of Kansas expects to receive $221 million in new revenue during the upcoming budget year. Unfortunately, the state owes $226 million on bills and legislative actions deferred during the recent recession. With little hope of new revenue initiatives, cuts are likely, with Medicaid (the state’s fastest-growing expenditure) expected to take significant hits. (KansasCity.com, November 25, 2005)

Citing erroneous payments as high as 25 percent, a legislative panel has proposed the creation of an independent inspector general to oversee the state’s Medicaid program. With $2.2 billion in annual Medicaid expenditures, vigorous pursuit of fraudulent claims could potentially have tremendous impact on the program. (Wichita Business Journal, November 23, 2005) 

NAMI Advocacy Tools & Resources

The 2006 legislative session is only weeks away, and NAMI organizations across the country are gearing up for state advocacy. Recently, NAMI Connecticut approved their 2006 legislative agenda. For a copy of the agenda, click here.

It is also important to update constituents on any progress made on a legislative agenda during a session. NAMI Minnesota recently released their 2005 legislative summary. Statehouse Spotlight readers can review the 2005 summary by clicking here.


Campaign for the Mind of AmericaNAMI Statehouse Spotlight is an electronic newsletter provided free of charge as a public service. With more than 1,100 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.

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