NAMI Advocacy Action Center carries information about pending legislation that has significant impact on mentally challenged Americans and others. Your support is needed for H.R.4213. NAMI reports the following information about this important bill: Call Now to Preserve Vital Funding for State and Local Mental Health Services
State Medicaid Funding at Stake!
The Senate has been working on a new version of the Jobs and Tax Extenders legislative package that passed the House of May 28. The bill, known as the American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act (HR 4213), includes a provision that would extend each state's federal Medicaid match rate (known as FMAP) through June 2011. Without this extension, many states will very likely cut funding for Medicaid, which is the most important source of funding of public mental health services. The extended Medicaid FMAP was removed from the House bill, so getting it passed in the Senate is of particular importance.
The Senate bill also includes $1.065 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), a critical investment in development of rental housing for extremely low-income households (including people with serious mental illness living on SSI).
Call your Senators now to support restoration of Medicaid FMAP funds into the Jobs and Tax Extenders Package. All Senate offices can be reached toll-free by calling 877-210-5351 or 877-442-6801 or through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. You can email your Senators at http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
Urge your Senators to support the new version of HR 4213 and not to remove or weaken the Medicaid FMAP extension.
The American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act (HR 4213) includes dozens of "must pass" provisions that will extend expiring tax breaks, avoid deep cuts in physician payment rates under Medicare and extend unemployment benefits in the current economic downturn and provide assistance to states to avoid cuts in health care and education.
Of particular concern to NAMI are two provisions in the package that will help avoid additional cuts to Medicaid-funded mental health services and invest more than $1 billion in development of affordable rental housing targeted to individuals with extremely low incomes, including people with mental illness living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Extended Medicaid FMAP Funding - The new Senate version of HR 4213 includes $26 billion to extend the current higher federal match for state Medicaid programs that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009. This higher federal Medicaid match rate (known as FMAP) is set to expire at the end of 2010. It is critical for Congress to extend the higher FMAP for states through June 2011. Securing these funds now will help avoid further deep cuts to mental illness treatment and support services financed by Medicaid. As many as 30 states have already passed budgets for 2011 that assume extended higher FMAP. If Congress fails to act, these states will be forced to make additional cuts to human service programs including mental health services. Read a full analysis of the impact of failing to extend Medicaid FMAP at this link: http://www.cbpp.org/files/6-8-10sfp2.pdf
National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) Investment - HR 4213 includes $1.065 billion for initial capitalization of the NHTF, a program authorized by Congress in 2008 to invest in the development of rental housing targeted to households with extremely low incomes, including non-elderly adults living on SSI. This provision of $1.065 billion will be allocated to states by formula and includes funding for capital and project-based rent subsidies to ensure that rents are affordable to people living on SSI. More information on the NHTF and efforts to secure this initial capitalization is available through NATIONAL LOW INCOME HOUSING COALITION at this link: http://www.nlihc.org/template/index.cfm
Mentally challenged people need help to avoid homelessness, prison, and health crises. Mental hospital insurance, which is available under H.R.619, was omitted from the national health care reform bill that Congress passed. The extended Medicaid FMAP, available under H.R.4213, was removed from the House bill. Please ask your representatives to support both these important bills. When important services are not funded, taxpayers save no money because more sick people join the 1.25 million who are already behind bars, adding to our $50 billion per annum prison budget and subjecing sick Americans to needless suffering.
Thanks in advance for helping mentally challenged people avoid incarceration (after avoidable crimes) by insisting that they have the support they need to live wholesome lives.
A Mercer County, New Jersey program proves the wisdom of providing subsistence assistance to former inmates who are mentally ill. Members of Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill (AIMI) advocate for two methods to decriminalize mental illness in America: 1) Pass federal bill H.R.619 to resume Medicaid for inpatient psychiatric treatment for middle class and indigent mentally ill Americans. Medicaid for inpatient psychiatric care was eliminated in the 1970's and led to today's crisis: 1.25 million of the nation's mental patients are prisoners, mostly due to avoidable crimes committed by people who were not being treated for their mental illness; and 2) Use assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) programs for chronic mental patients exiting jails and hospitals. AOT programs that combine mandated psychiatric treatment with subsistence assistance reduced homelessness, arrests, hospitalizations, and incarceration among program participants in New York by around 85% as compared to their experiences three years before joining the program. New Jersey's program of monitoring and supporting mental patients after prison release further prove that it is humane and financially prudent to give mentally ill ex-prisoners the support they need to live wholesome lives and avoid recidivism. See an exciting article about the Mercer County program below.
(June 28, 2010) -- In 2005, Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare launched an initiative to assist released prisoners in Mercer County, N.J., who suffered from mental illness and substance abuse problems. The project was funded under New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
The agency partnered with a range of organizations representing government, health care providers, the mentally ill and ex-offenders to:
Implement a model for prisoner discharge planning and services geared to the needs of those with serious mental illness or substance abuse problems.
Gather data useful in reevaluating statewide public policy for serving former prisoners with serious mental illness or substance abuse problems, including:
The risk of hospitalization or re-incarceration
The level of services needed
Follow-through and adherence to treatments
A project advisory committee, made up of staff and representatives of the partnering organizations, provided guidance and coordination. For a list of the project's partnering organizations, see Appendix 1.
Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare reported the following results to RWJF in 2008:
From July 2005 to June 2008, Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare received grant support under NJHI to provide re-entry assistance to 176 people—45 from state prisons and 131 from the county jail. These clients received assessment, discharge planning, case management, service coordination and needed follow-up services for 12 months or more. Services included:
Assistance in obtaining public benefits (120 clients, or 68 percent of those served)
Providing medication (88 clients, or 50 percent of those served)
Linking clients to treatment (79 clients, or 45 percent of those served)
Securing housing (111 clients, or 63 percent of those served)
Re-incarceration rates during the project were substantially lower than the national average:
Of those released from state prisons, 20 percent (9 of 45) were re-incarcerated. The national average for state prisons is 81 percent.
Of those released from the jail, 30 percent (39 of 131) were re-incarcerated. The national average for local jails is 79 percent.
The project fostered a broad-based systems change in the handling of released prisoners, including:
Providing re-entry services to state prisoners with mental illness
Improving access to financial assistance for re-entering prisoners
Improving the quality of treatment through staff training
Better service coordination among courts, corrections and health agencies
For project findings comparing those released from state prison to those released from jail, see Appendix 2.
When working with the prison and county jail systems, do not rely on predicted release dates. Staff planned to work with clients for three months prior to discharge, but this was not possible since—especially for jail clients—discharge dates were often unpredictable with clients tending to be released earlier than anticipated. (Project Director)
Several factors predict positive outcomes for clients remaining in the community, including:
The client is linked to treatment and receives medication.
The client has permanent housing.
The client's case manager completes an intervention within one week of release. (Project Director)
Many former prisoners with mental health or substance abuse problems need longer support than the nine to 12 months of follow-up originally envisioned in the project because of the severity of challenges this population faces. (Project Director)
RWJF provided a $300,000 grant to Greater Trenton C.M.H.C., Inc. (the incorporation name for Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare) for this project from July 2005 to June 2008. Mercer County, N.J., and the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services also provided funding.
Mercer County and the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services continued to fund the project after RWJF support ended. The state agency also has contracted with Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare to expand the effort by intervening when a person with mental illness first comes in contact with the justice system. The goal is to provide treatment in lieu of incarceration.
With a grant from RWJF (ID# 063162), Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare offered free technical assistance in 2009 to organizations helping former prisoners with mental illness. This included a conference on November 13, 2008, in Monroe Township, N.J. Some 154 individuals representing corrections, mental health, governmental and other organizations attended.
PHYSICAL INJURIES, deformities, and limitations such as blindness can be perceived easily and addressed medically, although those who are thus afflicted frequently have lifetime impairments that require ongoing treatment.Mental scars after wars and other traumatic events can also last a lifetime, and people who suffer enormous mental agony after harrowing experiences also need professional attention and special allowances for their conditions.
NO MAN LEFT BEHIND
Homeless Veterans with PTSD (Click on picture to see gallary)
People who are blind, paraplegic, or have other physical limitations usually find the public to be sympathetic to their physical handicaps, and society makes allowances to benefit those who are physically afflicted.There are laws to ensure that public buildings are wheelchair accessible.News broadcasts and many other television shows offer the option of having the printed text running at the bottom of the screen for the sake of hearing-impaired viewers, and sign language is commonly used in public meetings.Many books are available in Braille, and large libraries usually have a Braille section.Handicapped parking spaces are reserved for people with mobility issues, and these set-aside parking spaces are protected by levying heavy fines against people who use them illegally.All of this and more is done to help enable physically impaired people to function better in society.
Mental dysfunctions are not perceived with the naked eye, as physical handicaps are.After wars and traumatic events, victims of PTSD may find immediate help and sympathy among family and friends.Counselors are made available to people who live through plane crashes and other catastrophic events because everyone understands that profound tragedies can cause those affected to be mentally and emotionally scarred.People who need help adjusting after losing loved ones are encouraged to go through grief counseling.However, the outpouring of sympathy and understanding has a short timeline.
Society seemingly lacks the willingness to make long-term allowances for mentally afflicted persons' inclusion in regular society that it makes for people who are physically handicapped. Instead, people who suffer extended psychological damage are expected to "snap out of it," and "pull themselves together."Individuals who "go crazy" after falling victim to permanent psychological damage are likely to eventually be treated like most other mentally ill people in society and are eventually given the same three options:homelessness, prison, and death. That is why America's inmates and homeless population includes many veterans from the Viet Nam War, the Gulf War, and other conflicts. .
Many soldiers who saw their comrades die suffer PTSD .
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to one or more traumatic events that threatened or caused grave physical harm.
It is a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma.This stressor may involve someone's actual death, a threat to the patient's or someone else's life, serious physical injury, an unwanted sexual act, or a threat to physical or psychological integrity, overwhelming psychological defenses.
In some cases it can also be from profound psychological and emotional trauma, apart from any actual physical harm. Often, however, incidents involving both things are found to be the cause.
The Obama administration announced that American troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by 2011.Our soldiers will transition back home, and many of them will be no different from the Balkan soldiers, among whom 54% were mentally damaged by their war experiences.Our soldiers who exited recent conflicts in the Middle East already have a heightened suicide rate.Additionally, many ex-military personnel, like other civilians with mental health issues, have a propensity to use drugs and alcohol in efforts to "get their heads on straight."
Two American Soldiers
By 2011, American soldiers in Iraq are coming home; 54% may suffer PTSD
Think of the rate of soldiers who are likely to be affected by PTSD according to the Balkan study:54.1%.Hopefully, a good many soldiers who transition back to the United States from Iraq by 2011 and are suffering from PTSD will avail themselves of the mental health services offered to them.The U.S. military has taken steps to increase and improve services offered.
Some returning soldiers will be able to meet society's expectations of people who have endured trauma and "pull themselves together."Some will adjust in a short amount of time to civilian life.They will have the support of family, friends, perhaps their churches and other community support.Many of the soldiers were actually in the Army Reserve, and they should be able to resume their regular employment.As time goes on, most sufferers of PTSD will experience reduced symptoms of the disorder over time, especially if they also get professional help. But what about those who don't adjust after a short time?What about our veterans who will never "bounce back"?Many will be permanently afflicted mentally.
Soldiers who are amputees or otherwise permanently handicapped during wars get lifetime benefits and are afforded all of the allowances society willingly makes to ensure the inclusion of physically handicapped persons in society:wheelchair ramps, reserved parking, special services for the hear impaired, and more.
QUESTION:What is America willing to do for veterans who are permanently scarred mentally after serving in military conflicts?Will we offer them the same pitiful outcome that is available to other chronic mental patients in America:homelessness, prison, and death?
Approximately 1.25 million mentally dysfunctional citizens (including many veterans) are currently in prison because of offenses arising out of their mental illness.Is this to be the eventual outcome for our soldiers returning from Iraq between now and 2011, also? We need a program like Kendra’s Law in place across America.Not only would Kendra's Law help our mentally challenged citizens who are in the civilian population avoid becoming prison inmates, but Kendra's Law would also help many of our veterans avoid becoming "prisoners of war" after returning home. Kendra's Law is outpatient commitment for mentally ill participants that combines subsistence assistance and mandatory treatment for mental illness.
Here is bill that has been introduced to improve mental health services to veterans of particular conflicts. One can track its progress through Congress online at http://congress.org/.
(H.R.1544) : 'To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for unlimited eligibility for health care for mental illnesses for veterans of combat service during certain periods of hostilities and war. '
This bill is commendable and necessary to removing financial barriers to treatment for certain vets - a very important bill that needs to pass. Keep in mind, however, that such legislation will not keep veterans out of prisons or restore those who are already in prison back to freedom and wholesome living like Kendra's Law can.
Veterans suffering PTSD who break laws are subject to incarceration. Many vets are already behind bars along with 1 in every 99.1 other Americans
HIGH SUCCESS RATE: Kendra's Law program participants in New York experienced over 80% decrease in incidents of homelessness, incarcerations, and re-arrests. Over 80% proved success rate! Kendra's Law works.
Non-violent mentally ill offenders who are currently imprisoned should be immediately released under an outpatient sentencing law, such as Kendra's Law, thereby eliminating overcrowded prison conditions in one day.
We already have the remedy to the high rates of homelessness among the mentally ill, high incarceration rates, and many senseless deaths that involve psychiatric patients who are not undergoing treatment.Please call your representatives and let them know that you support Kendra's Law across America.Homelessness, prison and death must cease being America's answer to chronic mental illness.
Psychiatric patients who were sentenced to prison for violent crimes should be transferred from prisons where they are inmates to secure mental hospitals, where they would become inpatients, as they should be.They should be kept hospitalized for the length of their prison sentences, even if they were serving life without the possibility of parole.Doctors should NOT have the authority to release mental patients who committed violent crimes.That privilege should remain with the sentencing courts after the patients have been hospitalized for the minimum sentencing period according to their crimes.This would prevent many relapses among psychiatric patients that endanger patients and the community.
All psychiatric patients who commit violent crimes or nonviolent offenses and are released from prisons and mental hospitals should be mandated to participate in an outpatient commitment program like Kendra's Law - at least for the length of their parole or probationary periods.If this is done, our rates of incarceration for the mentally ill behind bars will quickly become practically nil.
Psychiatric patients and society as a whole would be safer and costs to taxpayers lower with Kendra's Law applied across the country.Give our veterans who are returning home psychologically scarred for life the help they need to avoid spending their lives homeless or as POWs in America's prisons.Insist that Kendra's Law replace homelessness, prison, and death as America's answers to chronic mental illness.
PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO BENEFIT OUR RETURNING TROOPS AND OUR NEIGHBORS WHO WRESTLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS TODAY. OUR SOLDIERS DID MUCH MORE FOR US THAN SEND A SIMPLE E-MAIL. Here is a link to contact your representatives and insist on Kendra's Law today: http://www.house.gov/writerep
HOMELESSNESS, PRISON, AND DEATH MUST CEASE BEING AMERICA'S ANSWERS TO MENTAL ILLNESS. COME OUT OF THE DARK AGES! WE NEED KENDRA'S LAW TODAY.
Support mentally ill Americans, including veterans suffering PTSD today. Don't sit back and watch our veterans who voluntarily answered America's call for recruits return HOME to become POW's. Call and write your representatives today and support Kendra's Law. Replace prisons with inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for mentally ill Americans. Please send an e-mail for our vets with PTSD. They did so much more for you: http://www.house.gov/writerep.
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